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Vietnam: Will There Be Peace Again?

For more than a decade literary works by Vietnamese veterans and civilians have been published in the United States. These can be classified into various groups: those written by North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese, communists and anti-communists, Vietnamese living in Vietnam and Vietnamese-Americans. In all these categories -- which are themselves fluid -- the one common thread is the Vietnam/American war and its aftermath. In fact this thread reaches back in time to a historical and cultural memory of Viyt Nam as a land constantly under attack and at war. In a poem titled "Conclusion" Nguyyn Bynh Khiem (1491-1585) wrote: "Will there be peace again, as in the old times?/Be sorry for both sides: they keep on fighting./Brooks of blood everywhere, avalanches of bones./Terror sends the fish to the bottom, the birds to the thickets./What good does it do anyone?" Written in the 16th century, these lines reverberate in the context of 20th century carnage. Themes such as the love of one's land, the horrors of war, life in re-education camps, the travails of being a refugee and exile in the U.S. run through the writings. The lecture looks at the politics of translation and publication within U.S. academia. It also examines the reconfigurations of the Vietnam/American War within certain U.S. and Vietnamese contexts and competing memories created by this body of writing.
Length: 56:58


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