CSEAS Seminar: “Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam”

Event time: 
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Location: 
Online () See map
Event description: 

Since the 1950s, the domestic politics of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, or South Vietnam) has puzzled Western observers. The American-backed regime claimed to be democratic while actually being authoritarian and seemed to be plagued by factionalism for no apparent reason. However, the bewilderment of these external analysists has obscured a much more complex history. Based on previously neglected primary sources and extensive research in Vietnamese and American archives, I argue that Vietnamese politicians genuinely favored democracy but defined it in starkly different ways. They also disagreed on the degree of democracy that was suitable given the communist threat and debated the range of parties and individuals that had a legitimate place in politics. It was these substantive disagreements rather than personality politics that drove the factionalism between competing groups. The presentation focuses on a debate between Ngô Đình Diệm’s faction and his rivals in the latter half of 1955.


Nu-Anh Tran is Assistant Professor at the University of Connecticut with a joint appointment in the Department of History and the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. She is the author of Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University; University of Hawaii Press, 2022) and coeditor of Building a Republican Nation in Postcolonial Vietnam, 1920-1963 (Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University; University of Hawaii Press, forthcoming). Additionally, she has contributed pieces to the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and Diplomatic History.

Speaker/Performer: 
Nu-Anh Tran, Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut