• Hieu Phung
  • Hieu Phung
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR of Vietnamese and Southeast Asian History
  • Specialty: Vietnam
  • Office: Scott Hall 327

Professor Hieu Phung is an environmental historian who investigates the impacts of local culture and statecraft on the preindustrial environment, especially on water and climate. Her research focuses on the history of Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the transition from the Medieval Climate Anomaly (c. 800/950–1250/1300) to the Little Ice Age (c. 1300–1850). In pursuing environmental history, she engages with the study of space, maps, and texts that reveal the construction of premodern geographic knowledge. 


She is working on a book project entitled “Heavenly Drought: Natural Anomalies and State-Building in Fifteenth-Century Vietnam.” The book examines local perceptions of natural disasters and environmental changes and how they connect both to the Vietnamese state’s responses, such as agricultural expansion and dike construction, as well as how they relate to the history of the Asian Monsoon.

Professor Phung teaches courses on environmental issues of Asia in which she helps students from both environmental sciences and area studies learn about the environment as a subject of the Humanities. She also offers a wide range of courses on Vietnam, Southeast Asia, interactions and connections between China and Southeast Asia, and Global Asia. Before coming to Rutgers, she taught at Vietnam National University-Hanoi and carried out extensive archival research at the Institute of Hán-Nôm Studies. She also worked as a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University and as a lecturer of Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Michigan.


Born and raised in Vietnam, she has experiences as a former international student and as a migrant worker in the United States. She hopes to push for more conversations about Vietnam and other countries in Asia, not merely in terms of nationalism and ethnicity but also in terms of many transboundary movements of ideas, imaginations, and practices.


  • PhD. University of Hawaii at Manoa (History)
  • MA. Vietnam National University-Hanoi (Classical Chinese and Nôm script)
  • BA. Hanoi University (English as a Foreign Language)
  • BA. Vietnam National University-Hanoi (Classical Chinese and Nôm script)


Areas of Specialization

  • Environmental history (especially Climate and Water)
  • Medieval and Early modern Vietnam and Southeast Asia
  • Vietnamese literature in classical Chinese and Nôm script
  • Historical geography and premodern maps
  • Trans-Asian interactions (Vietnam, China)
  • Environmental humanities - Asia
  • Digital humanities

Selected Publications


Courses Taught

  • East Asian Civilizations: Premodern Era (01:098:241) - Fall 2022
  • Topics in Asian Studies (Modern Vietnam in Literature and Films) - Fall 2022
  • Global East Asia (01:098:250) - Spring 2023
  • Topics in Asian Studies (Environmental Crises in Asia: Past and Present) - Spring 2023


Professional Affiliations