The Vietnam War in the Pacific World
15-16 August 2019, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Keynote Presentations by Barbara Keys (University of Melbourne) and Fredrik Logevall (Harvard University)
Most Americans and many non-Americans know it as the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese refer to it as the American War. And some historians prefer to label it the Second Indochina War, both to distinguish it from the French struggle to re-establish empire after World War II and to acknowledge the central place of Laos and Cambodia in the conflict. But the war waged in those countries during the 1960s and early 1970s also had a ripple effect across the broader Asia Pacific region.
South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand all contributed troops to the “Free World Forces” in support of the American and South Vietnamese effort to maintain an anti-Communist regime in Saigon, prompting new intra-regional military, social, and cultural dynamics between troops and hosts on the ground in Indochina. Other such dynamics also emerged in the variety of Asia Pacific locations where US military personnel spent their R&R time, including Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Sydney, and Hawaii. Shifting from the interpersonal to the international, the war and its aftermath led to a reconfiguration of American power in the region, both in tone and substance, and to altered patterns of engagement in the region by China, Vietnam, and other states.
Not least, the war was also implicated in the changing character of domestic political regimes, economic frameworks, and group identities within Asia Pacific nations and cultures. Given renewed debate in the twenty-first century about the arc and impact of great power competition in the region, it is especially timely to reconsider these and other aspects of the Pacific World experiences and legacies of the Vietnam War.
We are seeking papers that address geopolitical, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and social aspects of the Vietnam War as a Pacific War. Papers can focus on particular places within the Pacific World, and/or on broader cross-cutting themes. Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
- the experiences of military personnel from the “Free World Forces” in Vietnam;
- the experiences of military personnel and locals in R&R locations in the Asia Pacific;
- the effect of the war on domestic politics, economic regimes, and/or foreign policies of particular Asia Pacific nations;
- the effect of the war on American understandings of, and relations with, the region;
- the effect of the war on the shape and nature of America’s Pacific empire, including Hawaii, Guam, and other sites of military bases;
- the effect of the war on peace activism within the region, including anti-nuclear movements within New Zealand, Australia, and the French Pacific;
- the effect of the war on the development of local, national, and regional identities;
- the effect of the war on regionalism and the institutional architecture for regionalism in the Asia Pacific, including SEATO, ASEAN, and ANZUS;
- the effect of the war on the politics of human rights, humanitarianism, and migration in the Asia Pacific.
To propose a paper, please send a 300 word abstract and a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org by 25 March. Please direct any questions to the same address. Invitations will be issued at the end of March. Draft papers will be due early August.
All papers will be considered for an edited volume that will be produced based on the workshop. Any researchers who cannot travel to Sydney in August, but who would still like to propose a chapter for the edited volume, are also encouraged to submit an abstract.
Organised by Brian Cuddy (Macquarie), Chris Dixon (Macquarie), and Fredrik Logevall (Harvard).
Brian Cuddy, Lecturer, Macquarie University