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Contested Territory: Điện Biên Phủ and the Making of Northwest Vietnam (2019)

August 14, 2020 at 12:00 pm - 1:45 pm

Join the Carolina Asia Center on Friday, August 14th, 2020 – the 75th anniversary of the start of the Vietnamese Revolution – at 12 pm (EDT) for a live online seminar on Christian Lentz’s Contested Territory: Điện Biên Phủ and the Making of Northwest Vietnam (published by Yale University Press in 2019).

Historians regard the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ in 1954 as the conflict that toppled the French empire in Indochina and triggered the decline of colonial rule in Southeast Asia. Christian Lentz’s new work of historical and political geography ventures beyond the conventional framing of Điện Biên Phủ’s history, tracking a longer period of anticolonial revolution and nation-state formation from 1945 to 1960. Examining everyday struggles over agrarian resources such as food, land, and labor, Lentz argues that a Vietnamese elite constructed territory as a strategic form of rule—a product of powerful, ongoing socio-spatial processes. Engaging newly available sources from Vietnam’s National Archives, as well as documents from the French military and other overseas archives, Contested Territory offers a novel way to conceptualize territory as a contingent outcome of grounded and embodied spatial contests.

Discussants Nhung Tuyet Tran (associate professor, Department of History at the University of Toronto), Erik Harms (associate professor, Department of Anthropology at Yale University), and Pamela McElwee (associate professor, Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University) will offer thoughts on the book. Christian Lentz (associate professor, Department of Geography at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) will provide a response, followed by Q&A. This panel will be moderated by Zardas Lee (Ph.D. candidate, Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).

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August 14, 2020
12:00 pm - 1:45 pm
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Carolina Asia Center