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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Conscripts of Empire: Race and Soldiering in the Decolonizing Pacific
by Man, Simeon, Ph.D., Yale University, 2012, 386; 3535384
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the racial politics of soldiering within the U.S. military empire in Asia and the Pacific, from the end of World War II to the end of the Vietnam War (1945-1975). In this period marked by the ascendency of the U.S. as a global power and as a self-professed arbiter of democracy, hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilian workers throughout the decolonizing world came to labor under the U.S. military. Together they helped transform the military into a transnational institution of nation-state building, to modernize and to defend U.S. allied states against perceived communist threats. Conscripts of Empire investigates the circuits of military labor that connected the United States to these various nation-states and territories in the decades after World War II. Specifically, it examines the mutual processes of militarization and decolonization in the Philippines, South Korea, and Hawai`i as a means to illustrate the productive tensions between U.S. military expansion and liberal inclusion in the Cold War. By way of this transnational frame, this project approaches the Vietnam War as a site of overlapping colonial genealogies and as its primary site of inquiry. Through archival research and oral interviews conducted in the continental United States, Hawai`i and the Philippines, I show how Asian American soldiers, Korean conscripts, and Filipino veterans and civilian workers came to be mobilized by the U.S. state to provide the military, ideological and affective labors for the war in Vietnam. These were racialized subjects of empire, I argue, mobilized to win the "hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese while helping to narrate and to exemplify "Asia for Asians" as the critical subtext for U.S. expansion in the decades after the formal ends of colonialism. In revealing the state efforts and failures to recruit, mobilize and discipline these subjects, Conscripts of Empire uncovers how the U.S. instrumentalized liberal race relations as a mode of counterinsurgency, and reproduced race and empire in the age of decolonization. At the nexus of American Studies, Asian American Studies and Vietnam War history, this dissertation offers new ways to re-conceptualize the international dimensions of the Vietnam War and to rethink the imperial history of the United States after 1945.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lui, Mary Ting Yi, Jacobson, Matthew Frye
Commitee: Denning, Michael
School: Yale University
Department: American Studies
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 74/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Asian Studies, Modern history, Ethnic studies, Military history
Keywords: Cold War, Decolonization, Militarization, Philippines, U.S. military, Vietnam War
Publication Number: 3535384
ISBN: 978-1-267-85664-7
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