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CFP: “Recollecting Vietnam”: Essay Collection
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Editors: Brenda M. Boyle and Jeehyun Lim, Denison University
Abstract deadline: July 14, 2013
Scholars and activists are invited to contribute to “Recollecting Vietnam,” a volume of essays commemorating in 2015 the fiftieth anniversary of the 1965 American escalation of conflict in Vietnam. Most American commemorations of the war memorialize the 1975 fall of Saigon to North Vietnamese forces, usually depicted by photos of U.S. military helicopters perched on the American embassy’s roof and being pushed over the sides of U.S. Navy air carriers into the South China Sea, or by mobs of panic-stricken South Vietnamese people demanding evacuation by Americans. These commemorations and images can obscure the fact that by 1973 American funding of the war had ceased and most American troops had been withdrawn.
Misperception about the United States military involvement in Vietnam is not limited to the conflict’s 1975 conclusion, either, as Americans also commonly misapprehend the roots of the United States’ post-World War II engagement in and with Vietnam. This ignorance suggests something about late-twentieth and early twenty-first century American conceptions of national ethos. One interpretation of the American focus on 1975 is that it rhetorically positions the United States as a victim of the conflict, whereas spotlighting 1965 instead can locate the United States as a war perpetrator. Victim as opposed to perpetrator status accords with the American sense of itself as a defender of freedom. In commemorating 1965’s escalation, therefore, this volume aims to reorient the discourse about events leading up to the conflict, the war itself, and its immediate and long-term after-effects.
Furthermore, while there are numerous critiques of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War in academic discourse, these tend to take place within a single discipline. This volume takes a multi-disciplinary approach as collecting those perspectives into a single volume will reflect better the complexity of the war and of its lingering aftereffects, half of a century later. These perspectives will include foreign policy but also military doctrine, the economics of war, cultural representations in film and fiction, and medical changes in prosthetics and mental health. The volume also aims to bridge academic conversations with community and activist concerns by including some perspectives of the Vietnamese diaspora.
Areas already covered by leading scholars in the field include American military policy, Vietnamese-American memory, PTSD, refugees and immigrants, socialism in Viet Nam, Vietnamese-American literature, and American war literature. The editors especially welcome essays addressing, for instance, the economics of the Vietnam conflict, American social/anti-war movements, relationship to current American wars, American war films, and prosthetics.