HIS 415 COMPLETE COURSE
Week 1 Discussion
Westerners Reading Overseas History (graded)
Most people, most of the time, know their own national history better than they know that of other nations, even their neighboring nations. Even though we know our own history better than that of others, we often learned it during our secondary education through factual information about dates, places, and leading personalities.
The study of history is much more than memorizing sets of facts and inferences based on facts. The boundary of what constitutes history is a vague one, and it is driven by the broad or narrow viewpoint that is chosen by authors. Every author has a viewpoint, and the authors are motivated to research and write by considerations that are often not made known but which are operating nonetheless. The boundary also intersects a great many academic disciplines to establish the context in which the facts occur and the factors operate.
As viewpoints drive authors, so our own viewpoints drive our work as readers and discoverers. As people of “the West,” our perspective is limited by our own experience of living in our own time and place –limits known individually as persons, and collectively as citizens of nations. We discover just how foreign we are as Westerners when we venture across boundaries of time, distance, culture, and language to learn about what happened overseas. What a telling word “overseas” is!
So, let’s go on a treasure hunt.
What do we need to know that we do not (yet!) know in order to make progress as we begin our study of Vietnam and the 20th-century experience? What do we need to know and discover in order to analyze the history in an expansive sense of that part of Southeast Asia that became known as French Indochina a half century ago?
Having thought that through, go hunting to find those things and bring them back to class to tell your classmates about them.
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Rising Tide of Nationalist Expectations (graded)
The history and identity of the Vietnamese people reaches very far back. Their hopes and expectations for their own future do not just begin where our class textbook begins (at the end of World War II), nor do their often troubled relations with their neighbors in Southeast Asia.
For all the horrors of global warfare, World War II brought such disruption to world order that long-repressed hopes of colonized people found opportunity for new expression and leaders rose to the opp