Will there be peace again? – rewriting Vietnam
A lecturer at Swansea University's Department of American Studies has been awarded a fellowship of $25,000 (US Dollar) to research Vietnamese-Americans' experiences following the Vietnam War.
Dr Subarno Chattarji received the Kluge Post-doctoral Fellowship award for his project titled "Will there be peace again?" Vietnamese-American writings in the US, which gives a voice to Vietnamese-American people in a literary field previously dominated by American perspectives.
Dr Chattarji commented: "By and large the Vietnamese do not exist in American literature and popular culture apart from as rather extreme stereotypes. In films such as The Deer Hunter, and Apocalypse Now, for example, the Vietnamese are portrayed as 'robotic monsters' and 'communist killers'. In other literature they are saints capable of immense suffering.
"In popular culture, in relation to the Vietnam War, America is always the victim. With my research, I hope to convey that Vietnamese-Americans were also victims who underwent traumatic experiences.
"American veterans are now coming to terms with Vietnamese-American writings that disrupt the dominant narrative of American victimhood. The issue also features in the current US elections and Republican candidate John McCain's own experiences as a Vietnam Era veteran and Prisoner of War."
The research shows how an exclusively American point of view has changed to include 'the other' within American contexts that have been modified and de-centred, and how this inclusion is both welcome and problematic for the Vietnamese-Americans.
The project will also concentrate on Vietnamese-Americans' immigrant experiences, and their identities, voices and hopes as they negotiate the American landscape.
He added: "A large proportion of Vietnamese came to America as refugees, displaced and unable to speak the language. My research looks at the realities they are living with, particularly South-Vietnamese people, whose country no longer exists.
"The project is relevant to the situation in the UK today as it addresses the issues of migration, cultural hybridity, and reconfigurations of identity and home.
"The project is also particularly relevant in the light of 9/11 and 7/7 in the UK. Parallels are consistently being drawn between Vietnam and the current war in Iraq, but despite the unfortunate similarities, there is the sense that lessons have yet to be learnt."