How resilient a refugee community could be: The Vietnamese of New Orleans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Vietnamese community in New Orleans has experienced various challenges ranging from poverty to disasters and from refuge trauma experience to children’s education. Nonetheless, the community has remained strong, which has been manifested in its response after Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. This article adopts the historical trauma framework to better understand the resilience of this ethnic community. The Vietnamese community in New Orleans had been studied by scholars in the field of sociology, ethnic studies, geography, health and mental health, to name the major ones. This author selected 42 publications by searching major databases of social sciences and public health (PubMed). Publications were then reviewed and analyzed according to such themes as shared group experience of trauma, intergenerational transmission of trauma, and community capacity and resilience. The Vietnamese refugee community in New Orleans suffers from collective trauma experience of war and repeated disasters. Although second-generation of Vietnamese refugees did show certain behavior and identity challenges during growing up, children’s behavior issues are not manifested or perceived as intergenerational transmission of trauma. Native language, cultural norms and practice, religious belief, collective mindset of self-sufficiency, and strong networks are often cited as unique community resilience characteristics. The Vietnamese community’s resilience is derived from the history of refuge and resettlement. A model that incorporates both community resilience and historical trauma framework is proposed to help better understand the community dynamics and the impact of community resilience on individuals and families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-67
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Community resilience
  • Disaster
  • Historical trauma
  • Vietnamese community in New Orleans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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