How can the history of rubber be used as a way to understand the history of 20th-century Vietnam? In this episode of New Books in History, Michael G. Vann talks about Rubber and the Making of Vietnam: An Ecological History, 1897-1975
(University of North Carolina Press, 2018), with Michitake Aso
, an Associate Professor of history at SUNY Albany. This extremely well-researched study of Vietnamese rubber plantations from the colonial origins to their near destruction during the American war opens new insights into the development of contemporary Vietnam. Dr. Aso explains such things as the difference between environmental and ecological history, how rubber plantations symbolized a type of French colonial modernization, the changing nature of French science, and the role of plantations in the First and Second Indochina Wars.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of
The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018).