Cornell University

This is a past event. Its details are archived for historical purposes.

The contact information may no longer be valid.

Please visit our current events listings to look for similar events by title, location, or venue.

Visual Culture Colloquium - Việt Lê

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 4:45pm

Virtual Event

Aesthetics and Ethics of Return: Trauma, Militarism and Modernities in Southeast Asia

Arguing for an ethics of return, the book Return Engagements is a political-economic critique of the nation-state, wars then and now, and global art markets, with a focus on Việt Nam and Cambodia. Artist, curator, and critic Việt Lê points out that artists of Southeast Asian descent are often expected to address the twin traumas of armed conflict and modernization on international art markets. 

By returning to and refashioning the specters of military engagements and modernity, Dr. Lê argues in this talk that artists such as Sopheap Pich and Phan Quang employ “strategic cartographies” in ways that allow them to reinvent such aesthetics and discursive spaces.


Việt Lê is an artist, academic and curator whose work centers on spiritualities, trauma, representation, and sexualities with a focus on Southeast Asia and its diasporas. He is an Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the California College of the Arts.

He is the author of Return Engagements: Contemporary Art’s Traumas of Modernity and History in Sài Gòn and Phnom Penh (Duke University Press, 2021) and coauthor, White Gaze (2nd edition, w/ Latipa [née Michelle Dizon]; Sming Sming Books, 2019). He is a board member of Art Matters and the Queer Culture Center.


Image courtesy of the artist.

Dial-In Information

Registration required

Streaming site:

Google Calendar iCal Outlook
Event Type



History of Art and Visual Studies, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Southeast Asia Program



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Sarah Blitz

Contact Phone



Việt Lê

Speaker Affiliation

California College of the Arts

Dept. Web Site

Recent Activity