Scholars, researchers and others interested in the Vietnam War are invited to “Vietnam War Stories: A Symposium on Conflict and Civic Engagement,” a two-day symposium scheduled for July 23-24 on the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington. Registration is free and organizers are hoping to have around 30 attendees in addition to the scheduled speakers.
The symposium aims to identify engaging ways to bring scholars, students, archivists, librarians, museum professionals, veterans, and, ultimately, the general public in direct contact with the lived experiences of both American and Vietnamese combatants and civilians who participated in the Vietnam War/American War. Through the lens of first person video narratives curated by film documentarian, Ron Osgood, a rich primary-source archive tells the story of the Vietnam War/American War through a wide range of first-hand accounts. The interviews along with related documents (photos, maps, etc.) are the basis of an online archive, Vietnam War / American War Stories, which provides a unique window into the complexities of this controversial war, while offering a more holistic and personal record that will contribute to extant research and scholarship. In addition to understanding the political and societal impact of the war, this project reflects on the role of memory—autobiographical memory, distorted memory, emotive memory—and the importance of building empathy by humanizing the enemy. It provides diverse perspectives on a war too often described and discussed from a single point of view.
The symposium will feature keynotes by humanities scholars, socio-technologists, and archivists. Our goals for the symposium are two-fold: 1) identify compelling ways to present social and cultural complexities of war, and 2) strategize how best to engage both scholars and the general public with primary source materials that tell these stories from multiple perspectives and nuances. The symposium will examine the potential for civic engagement with archives like Vietnam War/American War Stories in the context of public humanities discourse and initiatives, and will include theoretical and practical explorations around crowdsourcing, curricula-building, and broader forms of outreach and engagement by scholars and citizens alike.
Another element of the project, “Just Like Me: Vietnam War Stories from All Sides” broadcast on Indiana Public Television and just last week won an Emmy. “Just Like Me” draws its content from the more than 150 interviews that have been filmed with American, South and North Vietnam veterans and refugees/civilians.
For more information, contact Ron Osgood: firstname.lastname@example.org