Mia Martin Hobbs
‘Nostalgia and the Warzone Home: American and Australian Veterans Return to Việt Nam, 1981–2016′ (PhD in History, 2018).
From 1981 to 2016, thousands of Australian and American veterans returned to Việt Nam. In this comparative oral history investigation, I examine why veterans returned and how they reacted to the people and places of Việt Nam—their former enemies, allies, and battlefields—as the war receded further into history and memory. I identify three distinct periods of return, reflecting the changing meanings of ‘Vietnam’ in Australia and the US. Each return period was characterized by different ways of remembering the war: reconciliation, healing, and memorialisation. Yet commonalities emerged across all return journeys. I argue that veterans returned out of nostalgia, and find that many veterans found healing as their memories of war were diluted by Việt Nam at peace. Yet this peacetime reality also disrupted their wartime connection to Vietnamese spaces. Consequently, returnees harnessed wartime narratives and practices to navigate their former warzone home.
Supervisors: Professor Barbara Keys, Dr Julie Fedor