The Indochina War has long been recognized as one of the 20th century’s bloodiest wars of decolonization. But this war was much more than just a clash between the French colonial state and anticolonial Vietnamese. It was also a vicious civil war among Vietnamese. In the Mekong Delta of Southern Vietnam, most of the fighting in this civil war was carried out not by regular armies, but by locally-mobilized partisans and militias who fought in and around their own communities, and who often targeted their neighbors and acquaintances. This talk focuses on one of the most powerful and consequential figures in the region, a mixed-race militia leader named Jean Leroy. He used sectarianism, mass mobilization tactics, and mass killings of civilians to consolidate power in his provincial fiefdom and undermine the Ho Chi Minh-led Democratic Republic of Vietnam. This account will, in turn, illuminate the interplay between sovereignty and violence in wartime Vietnam.
Edward Miller is an Associate Professor of History at Dartmouth. His research and teaching focus on Modern Vietnam, the Vietnam War, and oral history. His scholarship explores the international and transnational dimensions of the Vietnam War and is based on research in archives in Vietnam, Europe, and the United States. His publications include Misalliance: Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States, and the Fate of South Vietnam (Harvard, 2013) and The Vietnam War: A Documentary Reader (Wiley, 2016).
This event is presented by NYU’s Department of History as part of the Elihu Rose Lecture Series. Cosponsored by NYU’s Institute of French Studies.