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Khmer- Kinh Intermarriage in Vietnam - CORE


Academic year: 2023

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The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the factors that promote this type of marriage; how Khmer-King couples experience their relationship with each other and with their families; and how ethnic identity is transmitted to the children of such unions. The findings highlight that geographic and socio-economic differences are significant barriers to Khmer-Kinh inter-ethnic marriages.


The Motivation of the Study

Their perception of Khmer-Kinh inter-ethnic marriages was that it was abnormal and impossible to happen because of the significant socio-economic gap between the two ethnic groups. This thesis will examine the marital experiences of Khmer-Kinh couples in An Giang Province of Vietnam.

Literature Review

  • Barriers to Interethnic Marriage
  • Factors Facilitating Interethnic Marriage
  • Living with Difference
  • Children’s identity

In a study of Māori and Pakeha intermarriage in New Zealand, Harré (1966) found that the different status position of the two. This decision was accounted for in terms of the patrilineal emphasis in the traditional Maori kinship system (Harré, 1966).


  • Data Collection
  • Sampling
  • Field Sites

Khmer minorities in Vietnam mainly live in the Mekong Delta in the south of the country. The ethnic mix of the staff in the administrative offices in this area is very noticeable.

Table 1.1 The number of interviewees
Table 1.1 The number of interviewees

Structure of the Thesis

Chapter seven is about the transmission of language, identity and heritage to the children of ethnically mixed Khmer-Kinh couples. Combining the findings from the previous chapters, it highlights the obstacles, tensions and conflicts that Khmer-King couples face in pre- and post-marital life.

The Background Setting of Khmer and Kinh Ethnic Groups in An Giang

The Study Area

Like other areas in the Mekong Delta, rice cultivation has been the main livelihood of residents in An Giang since the Reclamation period. The current An Giang Province was then a remote and bordering part in the country of Tam Phong Long.

Table 2.1 Population divided into ethnic groups in An Giang, 2010
Table 2.1 Population divided into ethnic groups in An Giang, 2010

Kinh and Khmer in An Giang

At this time, many farmers in the Mekong Delta simultaneously fought against the RVN during. Each village (phum) has a pagoda, which plays an important role in the social and mental life of Khmer society. In the Gia Long Reign, the Vietnamese court's basic policy towards the Khmer emphasized Khmer self-government and coexistence.

During the wars of decolonization in the Mekong Delta, the Kinh and Khmer people came together in common resistance against the French.

Cultural Exchanges between Groups

In addition, a number of Khmer workers and intellectuals were also involved in the August Revolutionary Uprising in 1945. Meanwhile, the Tri Ton district capital has been the central center of administration and commerce in the region, sectors which are mainly staffed by Kinh men and women. . We can also note that Vietnamese and Khmer living in the mountain massif celebrate both Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year) and Chol Chonam Thomay (Khmer New Year).

This phenomenon has appeared in the study area since 1990, but has become more popular since 2003.

Bridging the Gaps

Socioeconomic Differentiation

However, the number of Khmer personnel in the state sector is very limited compared to the Vietnamese. In contrast to the limited presence of the Khmer people in official and state occupations, the Kinh are dominant in the state and official sector, and even in the mountainous region of the Khmer people, the Kinh dominate the administrative offices. From Table 3.1, we can see that the Khmer ethnic group mostly work in the household business sector.

The economic gap between Kinh and Khmer ethnic groups is noted in the UNFPA report (see Table 3.2).

Figure 3.1 Literacy rate of Khmer and Kinh ethnic group aged 15 and older, 2009  Source: UNFPA, 2011
Figure 3.1 Literacy rate of Khmer and Kinh ethnic group aged 15 and older, 2009 Source: UNFPA, 2011


In accordance with Taylor's analysis of the pejorative stereotype of the majority towards Khmer, Mrs. Ngan, a former provincial official who had long-term work experience in development programs with the Khmer community, often tells me that her main impression of the Khmers was their low educational level and overwhelming poverty. Even though I explained that my in-laws were very friendly, I was treated well 74.

Although she did not speak Khmer, her Khmer neighbors tried to communicate with her in Vietnamese when they approached her.

Modernization and State Policies on Modernization

In addition, Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW also proposes many state policies for the development of the socio-economic status of the ethnic minority in the mountainous area. In particular, the rural modernization program - mechanization of agriculture, rural electrification and infrastructure programs, and improvements in irrigation, drainage and flood control - has significantly changed the standard of living of the Khmer people. The school was established with the first name "Tri Ton Khmer Boarding High School" for Khmer secondary students and in 1996, the school was expanded to both middle and high school students and its name was changed to "An Giang Khmer Boarding High School". .

The boarding school for ethnic people has brought new life to the Khmer people in the area.

Life History of Khmer-Kinh Marriages

The decline in Khmer-Kinh marriages after Pol Pot's war was rooted in the ethnic tensions of both Kinh and Khmer groups. In the period from 1977 to 1984, the number of marriages between Kinh and Khmer people temporarily decreased due to the impact of the Khmer Rouge War in the border area. They thought that Khmer in the area and Khmer Rouge are the same, so they had a strong prejudice against Khmer people.

Because of this prejudice that the Khmer were less educated, the Khmer were not included in the selection of peers of kinh people.

Official Data on the Incidence of Khmer-Kinh Intermarriage

The municipality of Co To, which is about 6 kilometers from the city of Tri Ton, also has a high incidence of Khmer-Kinh inter-ethnic marriages. In addition, persistent prejudice against the ethnic other can significantly impede the possibility of inter-ethnic Khmer-Kinh marriage. In addition, a fluctuation in the incidence of Khmer-Kinh inter-ethnic marriages in recent history has been recalled by the memory of the Khmer elders and my own personal experiences.

The evidence of the prevalence of Khmer-Kinh inter-ethnic marriages in recent years was illustrated by original data on Khmer and Kinh inter-ethnic marriages in Tri Ton District.

Table 3.3 Luong Phi commune  Year  Total number
Table 3.3 Luong Phi commune Year Total number

Overcoming the Barriers to Interethnic Marriage

Circumstances of Meeting

Aly and Thanh had not met until they started working at the same place in a company in the city of Tri Ton. This policy has brought teachers from different areas and different ethnic groups together to teach in the same schools. They first met when they were assigned to teach at the same high school in a remote Khmer village.

However, in the mixed ethnic environment of Tri Ton city, the Kinh and Khmer ethnic people have long-term cooperation through their daily activities and trade.

Socioeconomic Differences: Homogony and Exchange

It is difficult for me to explain how Chau Thi and his Kinh wife, Kim Ngan, fell in love and married considering the difference in their respective educations and professions. About a week later, I contacted Chau Thi again to ask to meet his wife. Since both of her parents had died and Kim Ngan is the youngest child in her family, she and Chau Thi lived in her parents' house with her unmarried older sister.

Social exchange theory is appropriate to explain the marital match of Chau Thi and Kim Ngan.

Table 4.1 The percentage distribution of population of Kinh and Khmer ethnic groups by  socioeconomic condition, 2009
Table 4.1 The percentage distribution of population of Kinh and Khmer ethnic groups by socioeconomic condition, 2009

Encountering and Overcoming Stereotypes

Kinh people assume that the ethnic Khmer in Vietnam and Khmer Rouge are 113. In my opinion, it is very misleading in the city and especially Kinh people are very cheating. His personal interaction with Kinho people at his workplace and in the wider Kinho environment gave him.

I expressed my surprise and said that many Khmers were very cautious in interacting with Kinh people.

Overcoming Family and Community Opposition

However, it was unfortunate that after getting her father's permission, the couple then encountered opposition from Chau Thi's mother. Seeing Chau Thi's parents, Kim Ngan greeted them politely, but his mother didn't say a word and averted her eyes with an unpleasant expression on her face. Knowing that his mother did not approve of their relationship, Kim Ngan disconnected from Chau Thi for almost two months until her friend arranged a meeting between Kim Ngan and Chau Thi to explain their misunderstanding.

To build his mother's trust in Kim Ngan, Chau Thi often took Kim Ngan to his hometown to visit his family.

Living with the Difference: The Marital Relationships of Khmer-Kinh Couples

Cultural Awareness and Adaptation

I guess individuals who have higher education can appreciate the experience of cultural difference in their wedding ceremonies. In each of the three cases above, the location of the couples in Khmer-inhabited areas significantly influenced the nature of their wedding ceremonies. Couples in the urban environment generally celebrated their wedding in shortened, condensed and modernized wedding forms.

Their wedding was celebrated in just one day in their home in the city of Long Xuyen on a weekend day.

Adjustment Problems in Non-homogamous Marriages

On the following day, the important traditional Kinh ritual 'the bringing of the bride' (le ruoc dau)37 was performed. With the consent of the bride's side, the groom's side, led by the groom's parents and the representatives of the groom's side, entered and began the rituals. Rites of respect for the bride's family were then coordinated by the chief representative of the bride's side.

Then the family representative of the groom's side (Maha) asked permission from the representatives of the bride's side to bring Yen to the groom's family house.

Figure 5.2 Inviting the bride’s parents to a cup of wine in ‘the bringing of the bride’
Figure 5.2 Inviting the bride’s parents to a cup of wine in ‘the bringing of the bride’

Parental Adjustment in Interethnic Marriage

Dung told me that she felt very comfortable living with her father-in-law. Her most favorable comment about her in-laws was their support in criticizing her husband's excessive drinking. During this period of crisis, Dungova told me, her in-laws were always with her in persuading her husband to limit his drinking.

Also, her parents' house was in close proximity to her parents-in-law's house, so her parents-in-law understand her own family's situation quite well.

Admiration and Disrespect

She repeatedly praised her husband's good qualities: hardworking, taking care of his family and not drinking alcohol or smoking like other local men. Loan further added that another character of her husband she admired was his filial devotion to his mother (his father died when he was young). Suddenly, Ngan was almost in tears when she talked about her parents' opposition to her choice of husband and the misery she felt from her husband's mistreatment of her when she had a conflict with her in-laws.

She seems to have no confidence in her marriage and when I spoke to her I learned that she doubts her husband's fidelity.

Coping with Cultural Differences

Competing Spousal Ideals in a Rural Setting

Kha further explained that when he worked in the Youth Union, he was expected to be proactive in socializing. However, it was in rural areas where tensions due to husbands drinking were most apparent. But, she said, her husband did not dare to lend her a hand in front of his parents, because her parents-in-law strongly emphasized the role of the daughter-in-law in housework and never let female relatives shake her hand. hand with the household chores.

From my observation, I found that the gender expectations of Linh's parents-in-law were not unusual in Khmer society, but that gender-based roles were assigned clearly in Khmer peasant society.


Tam was highly motivated to learn the Khmer language for his conquest and integration into the local community. She may have assumed that the Khmer must be able to communicate in Vietnamese, so it was not her obligation to learn the Khmer language. Unable to communicate in Khmer, but living in a Khmer-speaking family, the Kinh couple expressed feelings of alienation, isolation and despair.

Aware of the language barrier, many Kinh spouses have tried to learn the Khmer language to facilitate communication with their in-laws and build a close relationship with them.


I expressed my curiosity as to why she cooked Kinh foods, was it because her Kinh husband could not eat Khmer foods. Khmer food, but she preferred to cook Kinh food as it was more practical - being busy with teaching duties, she didn't want to spend so much time cooking as she had a lot of other work to do. The preparation of Khmer foods was very time-consuming and complicated, as it needed several ingredients to create its distinct taste.

As a result, Khmer housewives preferred to prepare Vietnamese cuisine on normal busy days, while elaborate Khmer food was sometimes prepared when housewives were off work or on special occasions such as family gatherings or treating friends.

The Transmission of Language, Identity and Heritage to the Children of

Language Transmission and the Influence of the Local Context

Naming Children

Selecting an Ethnic Identity for Children


Main Findings of the Study

Theoretical and Empirical Contributions

Limitations and Recommendations for Future Research


Table 1.1 The number of interviewees
Figure 1.2 Tri Ton market in Tri Ton town
Table 2.1 Population divided into ethnic groups in An Giang, 2010
Figure 2.1 Trading on waterways in Long Xuyen


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