The American War in Contemporary Vietnam

The American War in Contemporary Vietnam

Transnational Remembrance and Representation
Schwenkel, Christina
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/13/2009
Format: Paperback 41 b&w photos
ISBN: 978-0-253-22076-9
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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.

Author Bio

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


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.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.

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Table of Contents

Note on Use of Diacritics
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Remembering (in) Vietnam

Part 1. Reconciliatory Projects
1. Return to Vietnam: Redemption, Reconciliation, and Salvation
2. Exhibiting War, Reconciling Pasts: Photojournalism and Divergent Visual Histories
Part 2. Memorial Landscapes
3. Commodified Memories and Embodied Experiences of War
4. Monumentalizing War: Toward a New Aesthetics of Memory
Part 3. Incommensurable Pasts
5. Contested Truths: Museums and Regimes of Representation and
6. Tortured Bodies and the Neoliberal Politics of Historical Unaccountability

Conclusion: Empires of Memory and Knowledge Production

Works Cited

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