The Global Vietnam Wars Studies Initiative is a breakthrough in the race to rescue and document the untold histories and hidden memories from all sides. The Initiative is working to advance groundbreaking scholarship about the conflict and its domestic and global ramifications.
Why Study the Vietnam Wars? The multipartite conflict in Vietnam ended in 1975 after decades of conventional and guerrilla warfare involving a dozen combatant nations and multiple groups within Vietnam. However, today we still struggle to understand and describe the tragedy of Vietnam’s wars, even as their ashes and embers continue to spread across multiple generations and continents.
Though vigorously debated in the historical discourse, much still remains unknown. With the field of war studies largely concentrated on the American perspective during the conflict, there is a dearth of scholarship attempting to understand the experiences of Vietnamese and other non-American participants. At the same time, the official Vietnamese histories are collective and may not reflect the stories of the individuals—for causes equally political and cultural—as they shun both personal aggrandizement and the evidentiary approach that informs conventional historiography in the East and West.
Arriving at an objective analysis from such subjective data requires an initiative that is both scholarly and people-centered. Yet, given the advancing age of many participants in the war, the window for compiling first person narrative accounts is closing rapidly. The Global Vietnam Wars Studies Initiative hopes to capture these stories through its oral history project before those who experienced the conflict firsthand are unable to tell their stories.