Grow the SEAA

What we document

Our goal is to surface the historical records and cultural heritage of the Southeast Asian diaspora for research, even materials not held by the UCI Libraries. We are actively engaged in and seeking ongoing non-custodial, equitable partnerships to ensure sustained preservation and access to the histories of the region, especially related to social justice and communities under-documented in the historical record. We are committed to the principles and practice of supporting community centered archives

Since the end of the Vietnam/American War in 1975 a large number of refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have come to the United States, and especially to California. The UC Irvine Libraries established the Southeast Asian Archive in 1987 in response to the community’s interest in having this history documented, preserved, and made accessible. The Archive's collection is broad and interdisciplinary in documenting the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of Americans of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese origin. Strengths include materials relating to the resettlement of refugees and immigrants in the United States, refugee camp and other experiences of the boat and land refugees, and the development and progress of new ethnic communities. There is a special focus on materials pertaining to Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans in Orange County and California.

The scope of the collection is limited to documenting the diasporic communities from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos including self-identified Khmer, Hmong, Laotian, Yao (Iu Mien) Americans, and ethnic and cultural minorities. We do not typically collect materials about the home countries unless there are clear linkages to the diaspora (e.g. reverse migrations, remittances, and other types of transnational exchanges). We also do not collect materials about all Southeast Asian diaspora (e.g., populations from Brunei, Burma/Myanmar, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand).

We are actively trying to document the following topics related to the diasporic communities of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos:

  • Refugee and immigrant resettlement experiences 
  • Refugee camps
  • Visual arts and film
  • Performing arts (music, dance)
  • Politics, leadership, and activism
  • Social service providers
  • Health (including mental health) services
  • Education
  • Business and development
  • Literature
  • 1.5 generation and beyond
  • Cross-cultural interaction, including Amerasian experiences

Support the Southeast Asian Archive

The UCI Libraries welcomes financial gifts that support the mission of Special Collections and Archives and the particular focus of the Southeast Asian Archive.  Gifts that support our funding priorities are essential to the excellence of our collections.