The American War in Contemporary Vietnam
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The American War in Contemporary Vietnam : Transnational Remembrance and Representation

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Christina Schwenkel's absorbing study explores how the "American War" is remembered and commemorated in Vietnam today-in official and unofficial histories and in everyday life. Schwenkel analyzes visual representations found in monuments and martyrs' cemeteries, museums, photography and art exhibits, battlefield tours, and related sites of "trauma tourism." In these transnational spaces, American and Vietnamese memories of the war intersect in ways profoundly shaped by global economic liberalization and the return of American citizens as tourists, pilgrims, and philanthropists.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 280 pages
  • 157.48 x 233.68 x 20.32mm | 476.27g
  • Indiana University Press
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 41 b&w photos
  • 0253220769
  • 9780253220769
  • 1,435,292

Review quote

"Scholars of monuments, of museums, of photography and remembrance, and in other fields will find much of value here, including scholars and fields far removed from the Vietnamese context." -Journal of Asian Studies "The American War in Contemporary Vietnam is essential reading for anyone teaching or wanting to understand Vietnam today and would be useful in teaching seminars or upper-level courses on Vietnam, Asia, memory, and history, as well as discussions of ethnographic methodology" -American Ethnologist "[This book] makes a compelling, significant, and long-overdue contribution to a growing body of recent scholarship that is interrogating the Vietnam War-or American War-in increasingly innovative and complicated ways.... It is essential reading, and it is difficult to imagine teaching a course on the legacy of U.S. involvement in Indochina without including it." -H-1960s "With its wide-ranging fieldwork and deft integration of insights from the literature on the politics and dynamics of memory, The American War in Contemporary Vietnam will be an important source for scholars of memory, war, tourism, and visual representation. It will also spark classroom discussion of how contemporary economic and political circumstances shape the lessons we take from the past." -American Anthropologist, Vol. 112, No. 4, December 2010 "In the depth of its research, the originality of its arguments, and the lucidity of its prose, Christina Schwenkel's engaging new book makes an outstanding contribution to the recent literature on transnational remembrance, whether in Vietnam or elsewhere.... [T]his is a work that deserves a wide readership within and outside of the academy." -H-Diplo "Schwenkel's rich empirical data offer a Vietnamese present that is as much haunted by the future as the past.... [She] has provided a compelling portrait of contemporary Vietnam and an important tool to interrogate the forces that shape transnational memory projects, conditioning contests over what counts as, and who can speak, the truth." -South East Asia Research "This book provides a great healing and revealing experience for any survivor or student of the Vietnam era." -On Point "This is a lucid, original, and extremely well-written book, further enriched by its manyarresting illustrations of Vietnam's remarkable memorializing aesthetics. What Schwenkel has achieved is both a sophisticated addition to our rapidly growing ethnographic literature on `late-socialist' Vietnam and a major contribution to the anthropology of memory, globalization, and postcolonial cultural power relations." -Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute "... a compelling and rare ethnographic portrait of a historically determined out-of-the-way place revealing postmodern conditions of globalizing capital undergoing locally situated revisions-in this case, toward a 'market economy with social orientation.' Fascinating and a must for all readers interested in the present and the past as it is constituted in memory.... Essential." -Choice "Anthropologist Schwenkel (Univ. of California, Riverside) addresses perhaps one of the most compelling transnational events in history. For one nation, the event was crucial as a foundation from which to challenge the great meta-narratives of modern times; from the perspective of another nation, it validated a version of modernity thickly embedded in local experiences of colonialism. Whether it is the 'Vietnam' War or the 'American' War, Schwenkel illustrates the continuing aftereffects of these histories as living memories in the ethnographic present of Vietnam. Fieldwork takes place in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as well as Hue and Vinh cities. This multi-sited ethnography includes experiences of mobility back and forth between Vietnam and the US that generates this transnational ethnography of knowledge production and memory-making "undergoing globalizing conditions." The final result is a compelling and rare ethnographic portrait of a historically determined out-of-the-way place revealing postmodern conditions of globalizing capital undergoing locally situated revisions--in this case, toward a 'market economy with social orientation.' Fascinating and a must for all readers interested in the present and the past as it is constituted in memory. Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries. -- Choice" -S. Ferzacca, University of Lethbridge, May 2010 "The study of memory has been a common pursuit of historians of war and its aftermath, but Christina Schwenkel's insightful and brilliantly written ethnography of the visual, political and semiotic processes that shape memory in Vietnam offers a new and transnational dimension to the field. Going far beyond the simple dichotomy of looking at 'both sides' of the war, her study of the commemorative concerns of both Americans and Vietnamese reveals the deep ambivalence over their 'shared history' and offers a profound window onto the present contemporary Vietnamese reality." -Nora A. Taylor, Alsdorf Professor of South and Southeast Asian Art, School of the Art Institute of Chicago "A significant achievement, and one that does much to demonstrate the complexity of sites of war memory.... [Offers insights] that have an eerie resonance for today's political debates over the purpose and legitimacy of U.S. actions in the Middle East." -Geoffrey White, University of Hawaiishow more

About Christina Schwenkel

Christina Schwenkel is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.show more

Table of contents

AcknowledgmentsNote on Use of DiacriticsList of Abbreviations Introduction: Remembering (in) Vietnam Part 1. Reconciliatory Projects1. Return to Vietnam: Redemption, Reconciliation, and Salvation2. Exhibiting War, Reconciling Pasts: Photojournalism and Divergent Visual HistoriesPart 2. Memorial Landscapes3. Commodified Memories and Embodied Experiences of War4. Monumentalizing War: Toward a New Aesthetics of MemoryPart 3. Incommensurable Pasts5. Contested Truths: Museums and Regimes of Representation andObjectivity 6. Tortured Bodies and the Neoliberal Politics of Historical Unaccountability Conclusion: Empires of Memory and Knowledge Production NotesWorks CitedIndexshow more

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