Vietnam: Race, Violence, and Decolonization in a Mekong Delta at War, 1945-54
We often like to think of decolonization in terms of binary struggles between European oppressors and indigenous resistance. But what happens when an anticolonial war is combined with a civil war? Based on extensive research on three continents and in three languages (Vietnamese, French, and English), this lecture focuses on the “forgotten” part of the First Indochina War (1945-54): the war for the Mekong delta, the heart of southern Vietnam. It examines the interactions between existing racial and ethnic stereotypes and a dynamic of violence on an unstable agricultural frontier. This mix led to a particularly vicious war for the countryside, and led to massive out-migration from the delta. Understanding this conflict helps us understand the strange birth of South Vietnam (1954-1975).
The speaker is the author of two books and a range of articles on Vietnamese cultural, social, and political history. His latest work is The First Vietnam War: Violence, Sovereignty, and the Fracture of the South, 1945-56 (Cambridge University Press, 2021).
Shawn McHale, a specialist in Southeast Asian History is a Professor in the Dept of History and International Affairs, at The George Washington University and Thanks for your assistance.