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The Unimagined Community: Imperialism and Culture in South Vietnam


Associate Professor Duy Lap Nguyen's new book The Unimagined Community: Imperialism and Culture in South Vietnam, will be available on February 22nd. Below is a review of his latest publication.

“A wide-ranging work of original historical research, critical theory, and cultural criticism, this volume by Nguyen (Univ. of Houston) reexamines the political and cultural history of the Vietnam War from the largely excluded perspective of the South Vietnamese. Disputing the widely held representation of the war as a contest between Vietnamese people and US imperialism, The Unimagined Community provocatively argues that, in its early stage, the war was not an anti-communist crusade but a struggle between two competing versions of anti-colonial communism. Providing an extended analysis of the culture of the early South Vietnamese republic, ranging from its political philosophy and psychological warfare to its popular culture and films, the book deftly shows that the war was a contest between two Vietnamese states that embraced two different conceptions of communism: one based on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the other on socialism without the state. Nguyen convincingly argues that in its nine years of existence, the early South Vietnamese state sought to establish a Marxist, humanist nation that favored a stateless form of democracy and rural autonomy-a remarkable political experiment against both capitalism and liberal democracy.”

(Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.)