In my ongoing effort to experiment with ways in which digital media can enhance the efforts of historians to examine and talk about the past, I am particularly pleased to begin a new series of videos that I will call “Streaming From Saigon.”
The purpose of these videos will be to introduce ideas that were discussed by Vietnamese historians in the 1950s-1970s.
However, these ideas will be presented in a manner that may not seem obvious today, but which would have been “normal” for American media during that time period.
What was “normal” in American media at that time? Well there were many things that were normal such as 1) a serious lack of knowledge about Vietnam, and 2) an unconscious recognition that “Vietnam” was the same as “South Vietnam.”
This video series will in some ways go beyond those limitations, however by presenting the ideas of Vietnamese historians from that time period through this distorted American lens, my hope is that we can better place Vietnamese scholarship in the context of the times.
The ideas that Vietnamese historians expressed in the 1950s-1970s were at times different from the kids of issues that are discussed today. But in fact, a lot of the issues that were raised at that time were legitimate for that era, and to be honest, they have never been fully resolved (and they therefore keep re-appearing). So I think it is worth raising them again to encourage (or provoke) scholars to answer.
Finally, as someone who grew up in the world of media that this video depicts, I am trying to find some way to connect academic history with lived history.