For the Fall 2016, we hosted a seminar addressing the topic of The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam (ARVN), the military wing of the former South Viet Nam. The purpose of this event was to revisit Viet Nam history and understand ARVN from a mutigenerational and international perspective. It was also to garner interest from faculty, students, and particularly Vietnamese Americans from nearby communities like the Bay Area, Central Valley, and Sacramento where largest numbers of Vietnamese outside of Viet Nam reside and are interested in contemporary Viet Nam Studies. By understanding how hidden historical legacies affect Viet Nam’s development, the goal of the event is to inspire students and aspiring New Viet Nam Studies scholars to create more critical knowledge production on Viet Nam's political, economic, and cultural future and ongoing reformation.
The seminar brought together the following: senior scholar Nathalie Nguyen from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, and author of South Vietnamese Soldiers: Memories of the Vietnam War and After (2016); independent scholar, George J. Veith, US veteran and author of Black April: The Fall of South Vietnam, 1973-1975 (2013); Nguyen Cong Luan, former ARVN officer and author of Nationalist in the Viet Nam Wars: Memoirs of a Victim Turned Soldier (2012); and Evyn Le Espiritu, PhD Candidate in Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley, and student film maker, who will screen her short documentary about her great uncle titled, “Who was Colonel Hồ Ngọc Cẩn?”.
These individuals challenged decades old writings and representations in English that, with limited and biased research, depicted the former South Viet Nam and ARVN in myopic and often disparaging ways. The seminar also brought up discussions regarding contested memory and how history and its rewriting will affect relations between Viet Nam and its diasporic population. Finally, the symposium discussed the trends in research that focuses on often forgotten history, like that of ARVN, and asks what drives the upsurge of work in this area.
Co-Sponsors: Department of Asian American Studies. East Asian Studies Program, American Studies Program, Circle K International at UC Davis, International Relations Program, Cultural Studies Program, Department of Religious Studies, Hmong Student Union, Institute for Social Sciences, Vietnamese Cancer Awarenesss, Research, and Education Society (VNCARES), The Vietnamese American Community of Sacramento (VACOS)