Margaret Bodemer

Margaret Bodemer



  • Asia-Pacific Social & Political History
  • World War Two in Asia and the Pacific
  • Museum Studies; Public History, Public Anthropology
  • Vietnam Studies 
  • Southeast Asia 
  • East Asia 
  • Politics of Memory
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • ​Asian-American Studies
  • Cross-Cultural & Historical Constructions of Race and Ethnicity
  • Biography & Memoir
  • Ethnography and Qualitative Methods
  • Pedagogy

Contact Information

About Margaret Bodemer

Using ethnographic, historical and critical approaches, I am interested in a variety of applied and intellectual questions regarding culture, history and identity. An interdisciplinary scholar, I teach Asian Studies (History Dept.), Ethnic Studies and Cultural Anthropology. 

Since 2011, I have served on the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Studies Group (a section of the Association of Asian Studies), which works to promote and facilitate Vietnam Studies. I have conducted ethnographic and archival research in Vietnam on the topic of representing Vietnam's ethnic minority cultures in museums and also investigated the development of ethnology in Vietnam, tracing its transformation from a colonial science to a nationalistic endeavor and way of being "modern." I have also conducted ethnographic research on modern popular religion in Hanoi, Vietnam, specifically addressing the ways of remembering war dead through ritual. Foreign Language Area Scholarships and a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad have funded my research.

I have been studying Vietnamese and traveling to Asia since my undergraduate years at the University of Washington’s Jackson School for International Studies. Since then, I have been very interested in the languages, cultures & histories of Asia and I have traveled through Southeast Asia (especially Vietnam) and East Asia. Nearly a decade spent in Honolulu at the University of Hawai’i has nurtured an additional interest in the histories and cultures of Oceania (Pacific Islands).


  • Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Hawai‘i Mānoa (2010)
    • Dissertation: Museums, Ethnology and the Politics of Culture in Contemporary Vietnam
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (2004)
  • B.A., International Studies (Southeast Asia) & History (minor), University of Washington (2000


  • Vietnamese (Advanced Reading, Writing, Speaking)
  • German (Intermediate Reading and Speaking)
  • Korean (Beginner)
  • Spanish (Beginner)

Courses taught

  • ANT 201: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • HIST 319: Modern Southeast Asia
  • ​HIST 419: Modern Southeast Asia (Seminar)
  • ​HIST 316: Modern East Asia
  • ES 212: Global Origins of U.S. Cultures
  • ES 244: Asian American Studies
  • ES 330: Chinese American Experience


  • Fellow, Faculty Learning Community, “Threshold Concepts,” Cal Poly, 2014-15
  • Fellow, Faculty Learning Community, “Learn, Actively!” Cal Poly, 2012-13
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad, for Vietnam
  • Foreign Language & Area Studies (For Vietnamese)


  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad for Vietnam (2006-2007)

Selected Publications

  • “Fieldwork On Two Wheels, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Ride” In At Home and in the Field: Ethnographic Encounters in Asia and the Pacific Islands. Suzanne S. Finney, Mary Mostafanezhad, Guido Pigliasco and Forrest Young, eds. 47-55. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2015. 
  • “Making Ordinary People Actors in National History: ‘Hanoi Life under the Subsidy Economy,’” in Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 35(2), p. 56-67, Summer 2010, University of Helsinki 
  • Faces, Voices and Lives: My Experiences in Building a Museum for Communities.Nguyen Van Huy and Margaret B. Bodemer. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers and Vietnam
  • “Some Thoughts on Museum Anthropology at the VME,” In Faces, Voices, and Lives: My Experiences in Building a Museum for Communities, Nguyen Van Huy & Margaret B. Bodemer. Hanoi: The Gioi Publishers and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology (2008).​
  • “Rằm Tháng Bảy:” Offerings to Wandering Spirits in Contemporary Vietnam,” Asian Anthropology, v. 4 (2005), pp. 115-136.

Selected Presentations

  • “Active Learning for the Intro to Cultural Anthropology Classroom,” in Panel: “The Crowd-sourced Classroom: Reasserting Relevance in Anthropological Course Design, Abroad and at Home.” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Chicago, 2013.
  • “Romancing the Field: Nostalgia about “First Fieldwork” Experiences among Ethnologists in mid-century Northern Vietnam,” History of Anthropology, AmericanAnthropological Assn. Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 2012.
  • “The Development of Anthropology in Vietnam through Periods of Colonialism, Revolution, and Globalization”, College of Liberal Arts Faculty Brown Bag Series, Cal Poly 2012.   
  • “Vietnam’s Postwar Subsidy Era in History and Memory,” Asian Studies Minor Brown Bag Series, Cal Poly, 2010.
  • “Genealogies of Vietnamese Ethnology,” In the George Stocking Symposium in the History of Anthropology, American Anthropological Assn. Annual Meeting, New Orleans, 2010.
  • “Ethnologists and Ethnographic Museums: Narrating the Cultural Identity of the Nation (A Case Study from Contemporary Vietnam)” Anthropology panel “Colonialism and Consumption,” Annual Conference of the Western Social Science Assn., Reno, 2010.
  • “Making Ordinary People Actors in National History: the Politics of Memory in the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology Exhibit ‘Hanoi Life under the Subsidy Era’,” In “Remembering Like a State: Memory, Agency and the End/s of National Publics.” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 2009.
  • “Museums, Anthropology and the Work of Culture in Contemporary Vietnam: The Politics of Memory in the Exhibit “Hanoi Life under the Subsidy Era,” Department of Anthropology Colloquium, 75th Anniversary Series, co-sponsored with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, 2009.
  • “Museums, Anthropology and the Work of Representing Culture in Contemporary Vietnam: Genealogies of Museums and Anthropology in Colonial Indochina,” In “Missionaries and Museums, Imperialists and Nationalists, State Needs and Cold-War Politics: Anthropology in East and Southeast Asia,” American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Pacific Division conference in Waimea, Hawai‘i, 2008.

Professional Memberships

  • Association of Asian Studies (AAS)
  • Vietnam Studies Group (VSG)
  • Society for East Asian Anthropology (SEAA)
  • American Association of Anthropology (AAA)
  • General Anthropology Division (GAD)
  • Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR)
  • Southwestern Anthropological Association (SWA)
  • Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)

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