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'Hell in a Very Small Place' Cold War and Decolonisation in the Assault on the Vietnamese Body at Dien Bien Phu

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This essay examines how Vietnamese combatants of the communist-led Democratic Republic of Vietnam may have experienced battle during the Indochina War's most intensive phase beginning in 1950 and culminating in the Vietnamese victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. It seeks to provide what is almost always missing in military histories of Dien Bien Phu—the unprecedented assault on the Vietnamese body. It uses the Vietnamese experience to think about what might be some of the similarities and differences between the Western experience of war and those occurring in the non-Western world, especially at this deadly southern intersection between decolonization and the Cold War. Vietnamese bodies were particularly vulnerable to the technological destruction of modern war as decolonization and the Cold War combined in an explosive and uneven mix from 1950.

Affiliations: 1: Department of History, University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM);, Email: christopher.goscha@videotron.ca

10.1163/156805810X548748
/content/journals/10.1163/156805810x548748
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/content/journals/10.1163/156805810x548748
2010-12-01
2016-12-03

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