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After the MassacreCommemoration and Consolation in Ha My and My Lai$
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Heonik Kwon

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520247963

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520247963.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
After the Massacre

Heonik Kwon

University of California Press

This chapter provides an account of the gigantic human catastrophe that devastated Vietnam in the second half of the 1960s, due to the Ha My and My Lai massacres. The connectedness of these incidents was not limited to the dynamic theater of a territorial war but also had a global dimension. The crimes were inseparable from the bipolar geopolitical structure and the interstate network dominant at the time of the Cold War. The postwar state hierarchy of Vietnam promoted the worship of the heroic war dead to a civic religion and, in doing so, demoted the traditional culture of death commemoration. A generation after the end of the war, the political economy of memory is now changing in Vietnam. The people of Ha My and My Lai are now engaged in renovating the places of the dead, as a part of “the commemorative fever.”

Keywords:   human catastrophe, Vietnam, Ha My, My Lai, Cold war, commemoration

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