still here

by luna chung

In discussions of marginalized groups in Western academia, the body is framed as a site of political action or inaction, often focusing on the liberation of the body from the constraints of institutional grasps. But what happens to a body “devoid” of political life and rights? The refugee. 

In this piece, I attend to the ways in which Vietnamese refugee women, more specifically my mother, used her body as a tool to resist repatriation within confinement in Hong Kong refugee camps. I imagine how her body passed what it knows — refugee epistemology and tools of resistance — to me, her child, without words. I take from what she remembers in order to imagine why people in captivity would subject their bodies to harm in ways that resist logics of colonialism and captivity. In this piece, I hope to blur the boundaries between life and death in order to complicate the ideas of body politics, autonomy, and agency, through the actions of Vietnamese refugees during the 1993 government-sanctioned repatriation in Hong Kong refugee camps. This piece proposes other ways of being for bodies in crisis, which accept the destruction of one’s own body as a means of resisting capture. Here, the self lives on through memories and imagining otherwise.



Luna Chung is a PhD student in Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. She is a first-generation graduate from the University of Georgia. Born in a Hong Kong refugee camp, her research focuses on illuminating the epistemology of Vietnamese refugee women that exposes legacies of US imperialism and undoes land-based formations of refugee subject formations within the sphere of the everyday. Her research focuses on the lived experiences of Vietnamese refugees at the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, race, and ethnicity.