From the Second World War to Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia in 1989, a series of
multifaceted and interconnected conflicts gripped the Indochina peninsula. During this
timespan, the wars in Vietnam evolved from anti-colonial struggle to superpower
confrontation and were central to the decades-long global encounter known as the Cold
War. As the struggle for Vietnam grew in intensity and complexity, it took on increasingly
global implications, drawing in a diverse range of rival states, citizens’ movements, and
other non-state actors whose interpretations and responses to the war were conditioned
by a variety of competing local agendas.
This course will assess critical historiographical questions, including: What were the
Vietnamese, origins of the conflict? How and why did anti-colonial Vietnamese become so
divided? Why did Cold War superpowers commit so much to a small, distant country?
What role did the larger Cold War play in shaping overseas powers’ decision-making?
What was impact of each party’s respective domestic politics? How and why did the
conflict end the way it did? How did it shape the politics and economy of the region? And
what are the global legacies of the war?
The course will consider the Vietnam War as first and foremost a Vietnamese conflict, one
which acquired increasingly global significance. In addition to exploring the domestic
causes and dynamics of the Vietnam War, we will also consider the conflict – a seminal
episode in the global Cold War – as a lens for analyzing a wide range of international
events and trends. These include Empire and Decolonization; the Non-Aligned
Movement; the Chinese Civil War; the American “Red Scare”; the Korean War;
Development and Modernization Theory; the Sino-Soviet Split; China’s Cultural
Revolution; Detente; the rise of the “Asian Tigers”; the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian
Genocide; and the aftermaths, legacies, and interpretations of the conflict.

offering time

Fall 22




Sean Fear(V)



Course code


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