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Contested Identities: Nationalism in the Republic of Vietnam (1954-1963)


This dissertation presents the first full-length study of anticommunist nationalism in the Republic of Vietnam (RVN, 1954-1975, or South Vietnam). Specifically, it focuses on state nationalism during the rule of Ngo Dinh Diem (1954-1963). Conventional research depicts the Vietnam War (1954-1975) as a conflict between foreign intervention and indigenous nationalism, but this interpretation conflates Vietnamese communism with Vietnamese nationalism and dismisses the possibility of nationalism in the southern Republic. Using archival and published sources from the RVN, this study demonstrates that the southern regime possessed a dynamic nationalist culture and argues that the war was part of a much longer struggle between communist and anticommunist nationalists. To emphasize the plural and factional character of nationalism in partitioned Vietnam, the study proposes the concept of contested nationalism as an alternative framework for understanding the war.

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