From the Second World War to Vietnams 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 partys 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; Chinas Cultural Revolution; Detente; the rise of the Asian Tigers; the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian Genocide; and the aftermaths, legacies, and interpretations of the conflict. This course is a continuation of HIS208 The Global War Part I, taught during the Autumn semester. However it is open to any students; previous enrollment in HIS208 The Global War Part I is not required

offering time

Spring 23




Sean Fear(V)



Course code


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