In Returns of War: South Vietnam and the Price of Refugee Memory
(New York University Press, 2018), Long T. Bui
examines the complicated relationship between the Vietnamese diasporic community and its home country, the former South Vietnam. Central to Bui’s argument is his use of Richard Nixon’s definition of Vietnamization as a way to frame the postwar afterlives of South Vietnamese refugees, their descendants, and those remaining in Vietnam today. While Nixon used this term as a military strategy to pull the U.S. military out of Vietnam, Vietnamization for Bui is a way to highlight how this Cold War term continues to function as an ideology and a discourse in the Vietnamese American community. Bui utilizes an interdisciplinary approach that includes discourse analysis, interviews, archival research, and personal narrative, in tackling questions of memory, loss, national identity, sovereignty, and agency. This book is both a critical investigation and a tribute to the refugee community that is a legacy of the Vietnam War.
Laura Ha Reizman is a PhD candidate in Asian Languages & Cultures at UCLA.