CREES Noon Lecture. To See and Write Vietnam: Polish Socialist Travelogues and Documentary Photography
Rather than negatively casting the work by Monika Warneńska and Jerzy Chociłowski as mere socialist propaganda or treating it as “purely” documentary, my talk will unpack how the postcolonial period—especially after the Second Indochina War—was narrated and understood in these publications and photographs. Vacillating between different genres and political commitments, the travelogues and documentary photography point to shifting boundaries of strongly context-dependent knowledge production. Chronicling prolonged wartime violence and hardship as well as the challenges that came with postcolonial restructuring and social upheaval, this discursive production around the war and post-war period in Vietnam used the power of literary narrative to humanize and translate to another context the experience of a seemingly perennial war without victimizing Vietnamese society.
The talk will also address how literary and visual representations and misrepresentations contribute to or undermine global socialist awareness of decolonization and postcolonialism—whether in line with or against the intentions of the authors and their political sponsors. Merging empathy and political rationale, the travelogues and documentary photographs I discuss warrant asking: Were these overtly political yet empathetic accounts immune to an Orientalizing gaze and framing? Does the empathy towards war-torn Vietnamese society, seemingly based in an ideal of socialist brotherhood, suffice as a tool for self-validation and motivation? How exactly did the Vietnamese version of the story come to matter in these representations?
Thục Linh Nguyễn Vũ is a German Kennedy Memorial Fellow at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies (CES) at Harvard University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Research Center for the History of Transformations (RECET) at the University of Vienna. Linh is a cultural historian with a strong interest in interdisciplinary approaches. She is currently working on two books manuscripts: one on the cultural history of everyday life and of political mobilization in a dissident milieu in socialist Poland, and a second one on contacts between Poland and Vietnam after 1955. Linh has published in Cahiers du Monde Russe, East European Politics and Society, and History Workshop Journal, as well as in non-scholarly outlets such as TAZ and krytykapolityczna.pl.
If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
|Event Type:||Lecture / Discussion|
|Tags:||European, History, International, Southeast Asia|
|Source:||Happening @ Michigan from Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, International Institute, Copernicus Center for Polish Studies, Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia|
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