“Just Memory: War and the Ethics of Remembrance” was originally published in American Literary History, volume 25, issue no. 1, pages 144 – 163 (Spring 2013).
“All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” This sentence begins one of my articles and will likely begin my book, “Just Memory: War and the Ethics of Remembrance.” Its major concern is the often irresolvable conflict over remembering particularly troubling events, with the war in question being what Americans call the Vietnam War, what Vietnamese call the American War, and what historians sometimes call the Second Indochina War (1960–1975). Ranging across literary and visual cultures from the 1960s until the present, I examine how this war remains important by weaving American and Vietnamese memories together within multicultural and international contexts. While earlier works on the war have narrower cultural, national, or disciplinary concerns, I consider how both Vietnam and the US fashion war memories through art, literature, cinema, photography, memorials, and museums. What ultimately concerns me is the question of ethical memory, which I define as memory work that recalls both one’s own as well as others. Considering memory (and forgetting) in this dual fashion, the book also challenges the borders and assumptions of American studies, Asian American studies, and Asian studies.
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