Building Little Saigon
Refugee Urbanism in American Cities and Suburbs
248 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
Sales Date: July 2, 2024
An in-depth look at the diverging paths of Vietnamese American communities, or “Little Saigons,” in America’s built environment.
In the final days before the fall of Saigon in 1975, 125,000 Vietnamese who were evacuated or who made their own way out of the country resettled in the United States. Finding themselves in unfamiliar places yet still connected in exile, these refugees began building their own communities as memorials to a lost homeland. Known both officially and unofficially as Little Saigons, these built landscapes offer space for everyday activities as well as the staging of cultural heritage and political events.
Building Little Saigon examines nearly fifty years of city building by Vietnamese Americans—who number over 2.2 million today. Author Erica Allen-Kim highlights architecture and planning ideas adapted by the Vietnamese communities who, in turn, have influenced planning policies and mainstream practices. Allen-Kim traveled to ten Little Saigons in the United States to visit archives, buildings, and public art and to converse with developers, community planners, artists, business owners, and Vietnam veterans. By examining everyday buildings—who made them and what they mean for those who know them—Building Little Saigon shows us the complexities of migration unfolding across lifetimes and generations.
- Introduction: Fleeing Backward
- Chapter 1. Pagodas, Dive Bars, and Storefront Museums
- Chapter 2. The Social Life of Mini-Malls
- Chapter 3. Memorials to a Never-Ending War
- Chapter 4. Downtown Saigon USA
- Chapter 5. Houston’s Little Saigon: The Architecture of Survival
- Epilogue. Refuge for All