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Body CountsThe Vietnam War and Militarized Refuge(es)$
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Yen Le Espiritu

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780520277700

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520277700.001.0001

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The “Good Warriors” and the “Good Refugee”

The “Good Warriors” and the “Good Refugee”

(p.81) 4 The “Good Warriors” and the “Good Refugee”
Body Counts

Yến Lê Espiritu

University of California Press

This chapter shows how popular narratives of Vietnamese refugees have been deployed to rescue the Vietnam War for Americans. It asserts that studies of Vietnam veterans and Vietnamese refugees are necessarily joined: as the purported rescuers and rescued, respectively, they together re-position the United States as the ideal refuge for Vietnam’s “runaways” and thus as the ultimate victor of the Vietnam War. The chapter contends that it is this seeming victory—the “we-win-even-when-we-lose” certainty—that undergirds U.S. remembrance of Vietnam’s “collateral damage” as historically necessary for the progress of freedom and democracy. By critically juxtaposing the constructions of the Vietnam veterans and the Vietnamese refugees together and in relation to continued U.S. militarism, this chapter draws on and brings into conversation three often-distinct fields: American studies, refugee/immigration studies, and war/international studies.

Keywords:   Vietnamese refugees, Vietnam veterans, refugee studies, U.S. militarism, Vietnamese refugees, war studies, American studies, immigration studies, international studies

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