I was looking at a pictorial magazine called “Vietnam.” Has anyone studied these types of magazines before? I think people have studied magazines like “Life,” but in the Socialist world there were many such periodicals. They are rich documents as they bring together history, politics and media studies.

In any case, these are some images which I found from the late 1970s, or perhaps it was 1980. It was shortly after the border war with China, and this magazine was clearly trying to celebrate the role which minorities had played in that conflict.

Scholarship on the First Indochina War has made it clear that minority involvement was complex. Some helped the Viet Minh, and some did not. This border war with China was much shorter, and was a clear act of aggression. That said, I still have no idea what role minorities played. These images suggest a single role (participation) and a single attitude (determination). Making such representations, however, was the goal of magazines like this one. Did reality match it? If not, how was it different? For those who participated, the experience was likely a lot uglier and scarier than these images suggest.