This week’s theme of “Forgotten, Suppressed, Invisible Hxstories” is incredibly relevant to Nguyen’s book and his overarching theme and purpose expressed in Nothing Ever Dies. He expressed that the ways in which the war has been remembered has been done in such a manner that only certain dominant ideologies prevail. He criticizes these dominating ideologies, and the negative influences they have on people's perceptions of the war, because he feels they have hxstorically perpetuated injustice as a result of narratives being “one-sided.” It is because of this that Nguyen strives to reconstruct the ways in which people “remember.” He believes we can develop a more ethical way of having memories, especially in ways in which harmful tendencies to suppress contending narratives, predominantly one that don’t align with the dominating ideologies in society, are prevented.
I found this perspective to be especially relevant to me and my experiences in life. Throughout my entire academic career, I never felt like SEA hxstory was done justice, especially since it was very scarcely discussed. As a result, I knew little to nothing about the Vietnam War beyond the dominating ideologies that the U.S. imposed about it. It wasn't until college when I finally got the opportunity to learn about the war, and other hxstorical events pertaining to Southest Asians, from more relevant perspectives - especially from firsthand Southeast Asian perspectives.
It is because of this that I've come to realize just how dominant certain ideologies are, especially within the educational system. As a college student, I so often witnesses, and additionally more often notice, the suppression of narratives and, furthermore, the intentional attempt at erasing these certain said hxstorical narratives. This had personally made me exceptionally grateful for ethnic studies programs within the university system because it is a first step towards fighting to have suppressed hxstories uncovered. It paves the way for hxstory to be shared in a more inclusive way. This brings me to question how can programs, such as ethnic studies, help play a quintessential role in further driving the movement to change the educational system? In what ways can we as students help support these organizations and their goal to dismantle dominating systems?
Viet Thanh Nguyen. Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War. Harvard University