Smithsonian Journeys Experts

Nina Hien

photo of Nina Hien

Nina Hien is a cultural anthropologist with expertise in media studies, visual culture, and art of the United States and Southeast Asia. Nina has a special interest in Vietnam, the country where her father grew up, and has conducted ethnographic research for many years in Ho Chi Minh City. There she focused on the use of photography as a modern practice and technology and sought to understand how the Vietnamese comprehend visual images. Nina earned her Ph.D. from Cornell University. Her most recent publications include two essays in the Trans Asia Photography Review about documentary photography and digital photo retouching in Vietnam. She has also written about Vietnamese food, culture, and globalization, in such publications as a book chapter in Food: Ethnographic Encounters, edited by Leo Coleman. She currently teaches at New York University at the John W. Draper Interdisciplinary Master’s Program in Humanities and Social Thought and at The Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

What Our Travelers Say

Her lectures were highly informative, creative, and captivating. Her personal history was profound, and very telling of the hardships the Vietnamese encountered. Nina brought vivid insight of her culture through the stories of her literary Vietnamese friends. Her lectures added a perspective to the history of Vietnam we never could have imagined. Nina was an added pleasure we all greatly valued.

- Jill H.