Tran Khai Hoai

Tran Khai Hoai, PhD

Faculty, College of Arts and Sciences


Dr. Tran Khai Hoai joined VinUniversity in 2022 as a senior lecturer of Vietnamese History and Culture. Hoai trained in borderless, transregional approaches to the history and culture of Vietnam as a place with peoples situated between Sinified East Asian civilizations and the maritime worlds of Southeast Asia at Cornell University, where he completed both his PhD (20220 and MA degrees (2006) in Vietnamese Literature, Religion, and Culture. Before coming to VinUniversity, Hoài served as an associate lecturer at Cornell and taught courses ranging from Chinese history and Chinese language acquisition to Asian religions and Southeast Asia studies.

Hoai’s interest in Vietnam extends beyond the university setting. He lived in Hanoi for close to a decade to pursue cultural journalism, editing and translation, and non-profit efforts to preserve Vietnamese culture. He was an editor and translator for the cultural e-journal Vietnam Heritage as well as Thế Giới Publishers, with whom he worked to produce commemorative publications on the occasion of the one-thousand-year anniversary of Thăng Long–Hà Nội, 1010–2010. He later served as the curator of the NGO and non-profit Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation’s digital collection of Vietnamese Sinographic texts held at Vietnam National Library and two Buddhist pagodas in northern Vietnam. In addition, Hoài has dedicated himself to the perpetuation of Vietnamese embodied culture. From 2007 to 2016, he taught as a grassroots, “rooftop” instructor of Vietnamese traditional martial arts (võ cổ truyền) right in the heart of central Hanoi and has continued to promote Vietnamese martial arts both in Vietnam and abroad.

Currently, Hoài is pursuing projects that attempt to bridge premodern Vietnamese history and contemporary culture as experienced today. For instance, he is studying the theatrical play and epic Sino-Vietnamese poem Quan Âm Thị Kính—a Vietnamese original story about the female bodhisattva Quân Âm that takes place, remarkably, in Korea—as a multilayered storytelling tradition that transverses various mediums, countries, people, and languages. At the same time, he is investigating the potential significance of Sino-Vietnamese prophecies and increasingly global Buddhist millenarian traditions for confronting Vietnam’s ongoing climate crisis.

Sino-Vietnamese (Hán Nôm) studies
Vietnam and the Sinosphere
Vietnamese religions
Martial arts as embodied culture

Premodern Vietnamese history
The Sinosphere
Asian and Vietnamese religions
Traditions of East Asian thought
The Vietnamese scholar-official
Experience and embodiment in Vietnamese culture

1. “Esoteric Tradition of Master Buddha of Western Peace.” Asian Philosophical Texts: Exploring Hidden Sources, 173-257. Edited Takeshi Morisato. Mimesis, 2020.
2. “Lessons from the South.” Essay for Dr. Ben Judkin’s blog for the academic study of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts, Kung Fu Tea, Nov. 20, 2020,
3. “Views from the South.” Essay for Dr. Ben Judkin’s blog for the academic study of Traditional Chinese Martial Arts, Kung Fu Tea, Nov. 15, 2020,

PhD, MA, Cornell University