The Language of Nativism:
Anthropology as a Scientific
Conversation of man with man
Trinh T. Minh-ha

22 January 2021—22 January 2022 

Excerpts from Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism, 1989, Published by Indiana University Press.

Bite the tongue revisits Trinh T. Minh-ha’s The Language of Nativism: Anthropology as a Scientific Conversation of Man with Man published in 1989 in Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism in which the filmmaker and writer enlists the writing of the native as a writing off rather than a writing of; a performance of erasure delivered by the movement of the pen. In the three subchapters republished by Bite the tongue, Minh-ha’s expresses the impossibility of nativist interpretation and the importance of moving towards the embodiment of language as the locus of traditions that unlocks a historical dimension superseding scientific gossip.

Still from Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film Reassemblage (40 mins, Senegal, 1982), copyrighted Moongift films.

Gossip and science:
a conversation on what I love according to truth

A conversation of "us" with "us" about "them" is a conversation in which "them" is silenced. "Them" always stands on the other side of the hill, naked and speechless, barely present in its absence. Subject of discussion, "them" is only admitted among "us," the discussing subjects, when accompanied or introduced by an "us, " member, hence the dependency of "them" and its need to acquire good manners for the membership standing. The privilege to sit at table with "us," however, proves both uplifting and demeaning. It impels "them" to partake in the reduction of itself and the appropriation of its otherness by a detached "us" discourse. The presence of a (grateful) witness serves to legalize such discourse, allowing it to mimic, whenever necessary, the voice of truth. Thus, “it is as if I saw my other dead, reduced, shelved in an urn upon the wall of the great mausoleum of language.”[1] All admittance of “them” among “us” is a hoax; a false incorporation that leaves “them” barer than ever, if “them” allows itself to nibble at the bait of Lies. The anthropologist-nativist who speaks “about them” and “for them” is like the man who “strikes a mouse with a stick he doesn’t want to soil!” (Chinese proverb). The conversation he aspires to turns out to be rather intimate: a chatty talk, which, under cover of cross-cultural communication, simply superposes one system of signs over another. Anthropology is finally better defined as “gossip” (we speak together about others) than as “conversation” (we discuss a question), a definition that dates back to Aristotle.[2] This profuse, idle talk between kinsmen (from the Old English godsibb) comes into being through boredom and the need to chat. An African man has perhaps best depicted the amorous link binding these men when he writes: “[Anthropology] has become a homily, a pretentious discourse that illustrates the fundamental misery of the industrialized man...Colonialization [Nativism] is scientific because the colonized [the native] is scientifically comprehended.”[3]  The love-matching (hate-matching) of science and gossip is as ludicrous as the wedding of bricolage and engineering turns out to be. Scientific gossip takes place under relatively intimate conditions and mostly without witnesses; hence the gossipers’ need to act in solidarity, leaning on and referring to each other for more credibility. The confidence they (re)gain through the ritual citing all their fellows’ (dead or living) names has allowed them to speak with the apathetic tone of the voice of knowledge. This is how gossip manages to mingle with science and, reciprocally, “when knowledge, when science speaks, I sometimes come to the point of hearing its discourse as the sound of a gossip which describes and disparages lightly, coldly, and objectively what I love: which speaks of what I love according to truth.”[4] Gossip’s pretensions to truth remain however very peculiar. The kind of truth it claims to disclose is a confidential truth that requires commitment from both the speaker and the listener. He who lends an ear to gossip already accepts either sympathizing with or being an accomplice of the gossiper. Scientific gossip, therefore, often unveils itself as none other than a form of institutionalized Indiscretion. To grasp the tightly knit strength of Nativist discourse is to perceive the mechanisms it develops in its defense and validation of a certain ethic of obtrusiveness.

The anthropologist-nativist who seeks to perforate meaning by forcing his entry into the Other's personal realm undertakes the desperate task of filling in all the fissures that would reveal the emptiness of knowledge. On the lookout for "messages" that might be wrested from the object of study, in spite of its opacity or its reticence in sharing its intimacy with a stranger, this knowledgeable man spends his time spying on the natives, in fear of missing any of these precious moments where the latter would be caught unaware, therefore still living. The more indiscreet the research, the greater the value of its revelation. Listen once again to the Great Master as he sets out to describe The Sexual Life of Savages.[5] Under the general heading of science and knowledge of man, there emerged a form of legal voyeurism appraised by the gossipers as a great advance toward a personal identification with the natives observed. Here, the Great Master proceeds to give his fellow men "an increasingly detailed view of native love-making," carefully exposing the difficulties of his fieldwork. In the treatment of such a "delicate subject, the ethnographer is bound to a large extent to depend on hearsay" and on information collected from "all the gossip of those not directly affected by the event, yet sufficiently interested in it to talk." Thus, village gossip figures among the "valuable material" that provides the investigator with the possibility of getting "a true perspective, and look[ing] at matters from the native point of view. " Handling "love in fiction or anthropology" is no easy task for a voyeur who aspires to scientism. The solution offered is, therefore, a regular insertion of light, cold, objective remarks between novelistic descriptions, which coherently reconstruct, from A to Z and even with some feelings and passion, the love-making scene. What is put forth is not the interpretive aspect—the gathering of details through gossip—but the observational aspect, which does not fail to give the reader the feeling of being the accomplice of a voyeur hidden behind some wall or bush, taking delight in seeing and appropriating two lovers' utmost intimate acts. Many other rhetorical manipulations may be further detected. One of the erotic approaches the Great Master discussed so as "to satisfy a general curiosity on this point" is, for example, the kiss:

Students of anthropology, as well as frequenters of comic opera, know that even in such high civilizations as those of China and Japan the kiss as a gesture in the art of love is unknown. A European shudders at the idea of such cultural deficiency. For his comfort, it may be said at once that things are not so black as they look. (my italics)

After having thus selected his public and explained why he undertook such a project, the Great Master set about making a distinction between the European and the Trobriand kiss, referring to the latter in terms of "lip activities. " The same remark applies to his description of the lover's passionate or tender biting off of his mistress's eyelashes, which concludes flatly (scientifically, in his opinion) as follows: "It shows that the eye to them is an object of active bodily interest. " Such rhetorical reductions betray a belief that confuses the knowledge of an act with the act itself; it is what an interpretive(ist) anthropologist calls "the cognitive fallacy, " which tends "to identify winking with eyelid contractions or sheep raiding with chasing woolly animals out of pastures.”[6] In his yearning for scientific truth and objectivity, the Great Master recurrently defended the validity of his analysis by insisting on his will to confirm all ad hoc information "from a number of concrete instances." His impressions, as he asserted, "were constantly checked . . . by data drawn from every sphere of tribal life. In fact, chronologically, the 'documents' are usually obtained first, but their real comprehension can be gained only from the knowledge of real life." The ambiguity of such declarations leaves the reader once more uncertain as to both the true nature (which he always claimed to see in objects he studied) of his "concrete instances, " "every sphere of tribal life," "real comprehension, " and the ability, in his own words, "to see things as they are, in opposition to what our fancy would like them to be, " if this "knowledge of real life" is gained without his witnessing the intimate facts himself. At no moment during this long verbal demonstration on the savages' sexual life did the Great Master seem to realize that he, like the (unaware) informants who "gossip about other people's business, and especially about their love affairs, " was likewise gossiping and that his reconstruction of other people's reconstructions of their peers' intrigues might be best designated as gossip about gossip.

Still from Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film Reassemblage (40 mins, Senegal, 1982), copyrighted Moongift films.

1. Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse, tr. R. Howard (New York: Hill & Wang, 1978), p. 185.2. The distinction between gossip and conversation has been made by R. Barthes, Lover's Discourse, p. 183. Aristotle's use of the word anthropology to mean gossip has been mentioned by Ivan Illich, Gender (New York: Pantheon Books, 1982), p. 132.3. Stanislas S. Adotevi, Negritude et negrologues (Paris: UGE, 1972), pp. 182, 197 (my translation).
4. Barthes, Lover's Discourse, p. 184. 5. Bronislaw Malinowski, The Sexual Life of Savages (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1929). All quotes from this book are on pp. 281-87, 330-34. 6. Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Culture (New York: Basic Books, 1973), p. 30.

Nativist interpretation

Anthropological writings have been equated with fiction. Yet, when the Great Master places the two words—anthropology and fiction—next to each other (as quoted earlier) in his analysis, one may deduce that, in view of his scientific yearnings, he either made a mistake, failed to notice this slip of the pen (not being aware of the possible connotations of such a juxtaposition), or unconsciously let out an avowal. The writings can indeed be defined as fiction from the standpoint of a certain concept of subjectivity. An analysis of the other-not-me (or of oneself) does not occur without the intervention of the me (or of one's "higher" self), and the division between the observer and the observed. The search for meaning will always arrive at a meaning through I. I, therefore, am bound to acknowledge the irreducibility of the object studied and the impossibility of delivering its presence, reproducing it as it is in its truth, reality, and otherness. The dilemma lies in the fact that descriptions of native life, although not necessarily false or unfactual, are "actor-oriented, " that is to say, reconstructed or fashioned according to an individual's imagination. It also, however, lies in the fact that descriptions are actor-oriented by their very nature. Anthropological writings can therefore further be determined as fictions from the standpoint of language. They assume, through a system of signs, a possibility as a fact, irrespective of its actuality as sign. Science fiction always comforts in its inventions, for it never circulates outside  men's image-repertoire. Outer-space creatures not only result from a compromise between humans and animals, they, very naturally, also speak men's languages. Here is where the limit of human imagination most conspicuously delineates itself: all the modern technologies displayed cannot suffice to overcome its creative "deficiency" as long as these somehow inhuman or above-human creatures continue to use our human system of signs exactly the way we use it, loading it with the same values and prejudices. Descriptions or clinical inventories, whatever the chosen mode of utterance, are fictional because language itself is fictional. In reflection, "fiction" may after all be used interchangeably with "jargon," for:

Every fiction is supported by a social jargon, a sociolect, with which it identifies: fiction is that degree of consistency a language attains when it has jelled exceptionally and finds a sacerdotal class (priests, intellectuals, artists) to speak it generally and to circulate it.

In its rivalry with other fictions,

each jargon (each fiction) fights for hegemony; if power is on its side, it spreads everywhere in the general and daily occurrences of social life, it becomes doxa, nature: this is the supposedly apolitical jargon of politicians, of agents of the State, of the media, of conversation.[7]

To say that man is above all Homo significans, that culture is essentially a semiotic concept, webs of significance man has himself spun, and that anthropological writings are interpretations and only interpretations is not enough. One should remain consistent with one's scientific endeavor and further inquire into the "nature" of these interpretations. For although no writing can escape interpretation and ethnocentrism, obviously not all openly interpretive anti-ethnocentric writings are of equal pertinence. Anthropology as a semiology should itself be treated in semiological terms. It should situate its position and function in the system of meaning or, in other words, explicitly assume a critical responsibility towards its own discourse, exposing its status as inheritor of the very system of signs it sets out to question, disturb, and shatter. Very few anthropological writings, however, maintain a critical language and even fewer carry within themselves a critique of (their) language. A subversion of the colonizer's ability to represent colonized cultures (albeit in interpretation rather than in direct observation) can only radically challenge the established power relations when it carries with it a tightly critical relation with the colonizer's most confident characteristic discourses. To say that reality is always adaptive is not necessarily to deny the referential function of language but to explicitly acknowledge that the proper referent of any account is no more the represented world than the specific instances of (anthropological) discourse. Interpretive anthropology does not offer any important change of venue as long as negative knowledge about the constituted authority of linguistic utterance is not made available in the very process of meaning and interpreting. Such a critical practice necessitates a questioning and shifting (in anthropology) of the very notion of "science" as objective understanding or study of systematized knowledge.

How do anthropological interpretations differ from any other interpretation? An interpretive anthropologist determines that "they are anthropological-that is part of a developing system of scientific analysis. . . because it is, in fact, anthropologists who profess them.[8] "The subjectivity involved here is not that of the individual but that of the anthropologist species. He who lays stress on the professional aspect of his work and defines himself essentially as a member of an institutionalized body of specialists capable of developing "a system of scientific analysis" spends his time searching exclusively for the stereotype in the Other. At no time, while he sets out scientifically to interpret the natives as bearers of a stamp imprinted on them "by the institutions in which they live, by the influence of tradition and folk-lore, by the very vehicle of thought, that is, by language,"[9] does he feel the scientific urge to specify where he himself stands, as a stereotype of his community, in his interpretation. Should he realize the impossibility of exhausting his subject—for, "cultural analysis is intrinsically incomplete. And, worse than that, the more deeply it goes the less complete it is"—he would simply reply that "interpretive anthropology is a science whose progress is marked less by a perfection of consensus than by a refinement of debate. What gets better is the precision with which we vex each other."[10] Haven't we seen earlier that anthropology is a matter of paying off old scores among a certain milieu of gossipers? A milieu that clings to science with the despair of a castaway. Being no more than a subject for anthropological gossip, the native, whose humanity figures in a "consultable record," simply serves to sow the seeds of scholarly suspicion, refining thereby the nativist debate while allowing the nativist lineage to live on. It is to be expected that the man who thus defines interpretive anthropology is the same to radically assert:

We are not, or at least I am not, seeking either to become natives (a compromised word in any case) or to mimic them. Only romantics or spies would seem to find point in that. We are seeking, in the widened sense of the term in which it encompasses very much more than talk, to converse with them, a matter a great deal more difficult, and not only with strangers, than is commonly recognized. . . . the aim of anthropology is the enlargement of the universe of human discourse.[11]

If one turns a blind eye to the self-congratulating, patronizing (but refined) tone of this claim for a conversation with them, one may interpret such a declaration as a refutation of an ideal set up by the Great Master, which has remained since then profoundly anchored in the anthropological milieu. The ultimate goal of every ethnographer, the Great Master wrote, is "to grasp the native's point of view . . . to realise his vision of his world."[12] However elusive it proves to be, this line has become the famous formula of nativist belief, the anthropological creed par excellence. In other words, skin, flesh, and bone--or, if one prefers the Great Master's terms in a reverse order: skeleton, flesh-blood, and spirit-are not enough; the anthropologist should go beyond and reach for that "subjective desire . . . of realising the substance of their [the natives'] happiness," which, according to my own progression, may be considered "the marrow of native life . "Can any discourse on man sound more homiletic than this scientific "conversation with them?" Keeping such cannibal-anthropological rites in mind, one can only assent to the following remark by an African man: "today . . . the only possible ethnology is the one which studies the anthropophagous behavior of the white man."[13]

Still from Trinh T. Minh-ha’s film Shoot for the Contents (102 mins. China, 1992), copyrighted Moongift films.

7 . Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, tr. R. Miller (New York: Hill & Wang, 1975), p. 51. 8. Geertz, p. 15.
9. Bronislaw Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific (1922, rpt. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1961), p. 23.
10. Geertz, p. 29.

11. Ibid., p. 13-14.
12. Malinowski, Argonauts, p. 25.
13. Adotevi, p. 182 (my translation).

See them as they see each other

To see the natives "as they see each other," the anthropologist should be able intermittently to "become the natives." Is this possible? How can one be a Nuer or a Trobriander? These are questions committed students in anthropology have unavoidably asked, even though many others chose and still choose to bypass them for fear of having to deal with a proliferation of complementary questions, which, in the process, are bound to shake anthropology down to its very foundation. Here, the Great Master answered he would not try "to cut or untie this knot, that is to say, to solve the problem theoretically" (my italics). First, he thought it was merely his "duty" as an anthropologist, to achieve such a goal, for "the natives obey the forces and commands of the tribal code, but they do not comprehend them; exactly as they obey their instincts and their impulses, but could not lay down a single law of psychology."[14] (Remember, anthropologists always set out to depict that which the natives live or carry on in their lives "without their knowing it" and to see through the latter's eyes with, in addition, God's grasp of the totality. ) Second, he prescribed among various "practical means to overcome the difficulties involved, " the acquisition of a knowledge of the native language. Language as a "system of social ideas"allows he who knows how it is used and uses it himself as "an instrument of inquiry" to render "the verbal contour of native thought as precisely as possible." The anthropologist's expertise in interpretation gains in scientific recognition as it now swells with the ambition of being also a loyal recording and translation of native mentality. In other words, language is a means through which an interpreter arrives at the rank of a scientist. The omniscient anthropologist "has to talk with [the native] under all sorts of conditions and to write down his words," for "after all, if natives could furnish us with correct, explicit and consistent accounts of their tribal organisation, customs and ideas, there would be no difficulty in ethnographic work."[15] The same rationale holds true when reversed, that is to say, when one acquires a knowledge of the anthropological-nativist language. If only he (the anthropologist) could provide us with correct, consistent accounts of himself, his gossiping organization, and the specific instances of discourse that constitute his very accounts, then there would be no need for us to carry out an ongoing critique of ethnographic ideology and its claim to represent other cultures. I say us, for there are and will be more and more voices to denounce this encratic language (a word borrowed from a thoughtful white man, "encratic" means the language produced and spread under the protection of power),[16] whose pressure lies not so much in its systematization and argumentation as in its unconscious "stickiness." In order to judge (by his own standards) how successful the Great Master was in his realization of the natives' vision of their world and his pretension, as "true interpreter of the Native," to "make clear to traders, missionaries and exploiters what the Natives really need and where they suffer most under the pressure of European interference,"[17] we can quote here two voices. The first comes from a Catholic missionary who spent thirty years in the Trobriands and is known to have mastered the language, the second from a Trobriander himself:

I was surprised at the number of times informants helping me with checking [the Great Master] would bridle . . . . They did not quarrel with facts or explanation, only with the colouring, as it were. The sense expressed was not the sense they had of themselves, or of things Boyowan.

I would point to the political nature of anthropology, in that it . . . carries a biased picture of those who read it. . . . if we are going to depend on anthropological studies to define our history and our culture and our "future," then we are lost.[18]

One need not, in fact, read the Great Master's Diary posthumously published to perceive the "reluctant imperialist" behind the falsely radical interpreter of the Native's need, but the diary confirms one's sense of the contempt for the "niggers" (his italics) that pierces through the professional writings despite his use there of the word "native, " of fierce hatred for the "bloody negroes" whose life is "utterly devoid of interest or importance, something as remote to me as the life of a dog. " Nor does one need to read the Diary to sense that beside their career-exploitable values, "ethnographical problems don't preoccupy me at all. At bottom I am living outside of Kiriwina, although strongly hating the niggers"; and to guess that the man who gossiped about others' modes of intercourse was a man isolated from the natives and deprived of intercourse, who used his ethnographic work to remedy his utter boredom with native life.[19] A patient reading of any of his writings suffices to reveal it riddled with prejudices as well as scientifical-professional-scholarly-careerist hypocrisy. No anthropological undertaking can ever open up the other. Never the marrow. All he can do is wear himself out circling the object and define his other on the grounds of his being a man studying another man. How can he, indeed, read into the other knowing not how the other read into him? "Without a doubt," the modern anthropologist humbly admits, "the attempt will remain largely illusory: we shall never know if the other, into whom we cannot, after all, dissolve, fashions from the elements of his social existence a synthesis exactly superimposable on that which we have worked out."[20] The other is never to be known unless one arrives at a suspension of language, where the reign of codes yields to a state of constant non-knowledge, always understanding that in Buddha's country (Buddha being, as some have defined, a clarity or an open space), one arrives without having taken a single step; unless one realizes what in Zen is called the Mind Seal or the continuous reality of awakening, which can neither be acquired nor lost; unless one understands the necessity of a practice of language which remains, through its signifying operations, a process constantly unsettling the identity of meaning and speaking/writing subject, a process never allowing I to fare without non-I. Trying to find the other by defining otherness or by explaining the other through laws and generalities is, as Zen says, like beating the moon with a pole or scratching an itching foot from the outside of a shoe. There is no such thing as a "coming face to face once and for all with objects"; the real remains foreclosed from the analytic experience, which is an experience of speech. In writing close to the other of the other, I can only choose to maintain a self-reflexively critical relationship toward the material, a relationship that defines both the subject written and the writing subject, undoing the I while asking "what do I want wanting to know you or me?"[21]

14. Malinowski, Argonauts, p. 22 (my italics); p. 11
15. Ibid., pp. 23, 454.
16. Barthes, Pleasure, p. 40.
17.  Malinowski, The Dynamics of Culture Change, ed. P. M. Kaberry (New Haven, Conn. : Yale Univ. Press, 1945), pp. 3-4.
18. B. Baldwin, "Traditional and Cultural Aspects of Trobriand Island Chiefs," unpubl. ms., pp. 1 7-18; and J. Kasaipwalova, " 'Modernizing' Melanesian Society- Why and For Whom?" Priorities in Melanesian Development, ed. R. J. May (Sixth Waigani Seminar, Australian National Univ, and Univ. of Papua New Guinea), p. 454. Both are quoted in Young, The Ethnography of Malinowski, pp. 15, 17.

19. Malinowski, A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967). See especially pp. 261, 276. The two quotes that follow are on pp. 167, 264.
20. Claude Levi-Strauss, The Scope of Anthropology, tr. S. Ortner Paul & R. A. Paul (1967, rpt. London: Jonathan Cape, 1971), p. 14.
21. Cultural anthropology has, more recently, attempted to address some of the questions raised in this chapter. Of interest here, for example, are the works of writers of Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1986), particularly those of James Clifford, who has consistently exposed the workings of ethnographic authority and ideology in his analyses. It is, however, worth mentioning that Georges Marcus, who co-edited Writing Culture with Clifford, closes the book by stating: "The task of the Santa Fe seminar from which these essays emerged was to introduce a literary consciousness to ethnographic practice by showing various ways in which ethnographies can be read and written. . . . The question for the anthropologist is, then, how consequential this literary therapy should be—does it merely add a new critical appreciation of ethnography . . . or does it clear the way for reconceptualizing anthropological careers and valorizing innovations in strategies for projects that link fieldwork and writing?" (my italics). Besides its more obvious reassuring tone (reassuring to anthropological careers), such a closing statement makes it quite easy for anthropologists to bypass, if not dismiss, the issues raised by confining them to the realm of "literature" ("these are preoccupations that originally spring from people with a literary background-not a scientific one"). Not only is this literary consciousness viewed merely as "a new critical appreciation of ethnography" or as a preceding step to the reconceptualization and revalorizing of anthropological careers (as I have mentioned earlier, opening up "a self/other-referential language space where the observing-writing subject watches himself observe and write while foregrounding the specific instances of discourse involved in his own writing" has little in common with the moralistic self-knowledge and self-criticism aiming at "improvement"), but "literary" in Marcus's context does not constitute a site of discussion nor is the word problematized in its contemporary, controversial connotations. What Clifford starts out drawing attention to in the introduction namely, the notion of interdisciplinary work as "a new object that belongs to no one" (Barthes) and of literature as a transient category—needs to be taken fully into account if a radical critique of anthropological writing is to be carried out. To understand the necessity of an ongoing critique of the West's most confident prevailing discourses is to understand, as Julia Kristeva demonstrates, that "because it focuses on the process of meaning within language and ideology—from 'ego' to history—literary practice remains the missing link in the socio-communicative or subjective-transcendental fabric of the so-called human sciences" (Desire in Language, p. 98, her italics). This would make hardly surprising the current work effected, for example, on the "science of the subject" in literary practice as well as on the "ethnographies fictions" in textual theory. Certainly the essays of Writing Culture set into relief the representational practices that generate and sustain ethnographic discourse. They successfully point to the textual operations that contribute to create an aura of legitimacy surrounding the production of knowledge and to direct the reader's attention away from their modes of address as well as their search for unmediated meaning in the event observed. But again, as cultural writing itself, can a critique of ethnographic writing be done without reflecting on its own writing? Without, through its practice of language, "unsettling the identity of meaning and speaking/writing subject"?

Trinh T. Minh-ha
Vietnam / United States

Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies and of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and an award-winning artist and filmmaker. She grew up in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War and pursued her education at the National Conservatory of Music and Theater in Ho Chi Minh City. In 1970, she migrated to the United States where she continued her studies in music composition, ethnomusicology, and French literature at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She embarked on a career as an educator and has taught in diverse disciplines which brought her to the National Conservatory of Music in Dakar, Senegal, where she shot her first film, Reassemblage. Trinh’s cinematic oeuvre has been featured in numerous exhibitions and film festivals. She has participated in biennales across the globe including Documenta11, Kassel (2002), and most recently at Manifesta 13, Marseille (2020). A prolific writer, she has authored nine books.