CFP: “Imperial Afterlives: The US, Vietnam, and the Global Imagination”

Call for Papers: Canadian Review of American Studies

Special Issue: “Imperial Afterlives: The US, Vietnam, and the Global Imagination”

Guest Editors: Timothy K. August, Vinh Nguyen, Evyn Lê Espiritu

Deadline: April 15, 2016

This special issue investigates the many ways Vietnam and its diaspora continue to be shaped through affective and political engagements with the US and other global actors. Taking seriously American Studies’ commitment to the transnational turn, this issue will explore how US military action and empire has served to position Vietnam and Vietnamese people on the world stage. We seek to understand the Vietnam War and its aftermath as global events in which bodies, memories, and epistemologies circulate and endure through various means and in varying sites. Scholars such as Mimi Thi Nguyen, Isabelle Thuy Pelaud, and Yen Lê Espiritu have shown that narratives about Vietnamese refugees are vital in (re)producing the rescue/liberation narratives that justify the United States’ economic, political, and military interventions. We would like to build on this insight by examining the different and multiple ways that Vietnam, (diasporic) Vietnamese bodies, and histories of the Vietnam War signify around the globe. In other words, what reading and narrative practices, racial logic, and/or social structures does Vietnam and Vietnamese people invoke? As both Vietnamese people and Vietnam are continually discussed in a remarkably comparative manner, we ask through what means Vietnamese history, culture, and bodies become integrated, differentiated, or used in transnational dialogue. As, traditionally, the US and their allies have played a dominant role in defining the reception and value of Vietnamese bodies, in this special issue we turn to cultural and social texts to examine how a series of counter-memories, negative affects, and commercial desires work together to imagine possible futures for Vietnam, Vietnamese Americans, and other refugees.

We are interested in broad understandings of the Vietnam War and its legacies and thus encourage varied approaches to the theme of this issue. We welcome papers that explore:

  • The mediated reception of Vietnamese bodies and culture through American systems of interpretation
  •  The role Vietnamese history plays in the creation of contemporary global politics and cultural narratives
  • The project of creating more localized as well as globalized Vietnamese and Vietnamese American histories
  • Diasporic Vietnamese communities both in and outside the US, and how they relate to one another
  • New relationships and utopian impulses generated by an engagement with Vietnamese experiences
  • The historical positionality of Vietnam as a site through which to imagine anticolonial and/or third world alliances
  • The work of refugee literature and critical refugee studies

Please submit an abstract (500 words) and brief bio (100 words) to Timothy K. August (timothy.august[at], Vinh Nguyen (vinh.nguyen[at], and Evyn Lê Espiritu (evyn.espiritu[at] by April 15, 2016.

Please visit for full CRAS submissions guidelines.

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