The talk focuses on Olga Dror’s most recent monograph Making Two Vietnams: Vietnamese Youth Identities during the War, published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press. Children and youth are underrepresented in scholarship, even though we all consider them as our future. North and South Vietnamese youths had very different experiences of growing up during the war that reflect the natures of the societies in which they were raised and the aspirations of these societies for their futures. Due to the prolonged conflict, the longest military conflict of the twentieth century, Vietnamese children not only suffered the most but also were raised to enter the world of war.
Based on literary, journalistic, and pedagogical writings, the talk will contrast the highly centralized agenda of indoctrination in the North with the lack of any such policy in the South and the results produced by these approaches. Dror analyzes the most important factors used in socialization (the protective role of a leader, the image of the enemy, examples for emulation) and their interactions with traditional culture (in the South) and with the creation of new culture and a new person (in the North). She also considers the influence of Western culture on the youth in the South and socialist culture in the North.
Olga Dror was educated in the Soviet Union, Israel, and the United States. She is currently a professor of history at Texas A&M University. She has authored, translated, and co-edited five books and numerous articles. The focus of her research ranges from Vietnamese and Chinese theistic religions and European missionaries in Asia in early modern times to the study of the civilian experience during the Tết Offensive in Huế, to North and South Vietnamese youth during the Second Indochina War to political religions. Her most recent monograph is: Making Two Vietnams: War and Youth Identities, 1965-1975. It was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. Her articles have appeared in the leading journals of several fields Journal of Asian Studies, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Journal of Social History, and Journal of Cold War Studies. Among her awards are a National Endowment for Humanities Fellowship, a Henry Luce National Humanities Center Fellowship, a fellowship of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Nantes, France, and a Dan David International Fellowship. She is currently working on a monograph titled Ho Chi Minh’s Cult in Vietnamese Statehood, where, among other things, she focuses on the examination of Ho Chi Minh’s cult in the construction and maintaining the Vietnamese state. She also will bring in a comparison of Ho Chi Minh’s cults to the cults of other communist leaders.
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