After the Airlifts: Battling over Vietnamese Children and the Place of Vietnamese Refugees
Lecture: Center for Southeast Asia Studies | February 8 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library
Allison Varzally, Professor of History, CSU Fullerton
As the United States escalated its military commitments in Southeast Asia during the 1960s and 1970s, Americans increased their commitments to the region's children, often choosing adoption because they believed in the power of the family to remake political wrongs and realize ideals of racial and gender fairness championed by the era's civil rights movements. Yet, rather than settle disputes and satisfy questions about the United States' place in the world and its responsibilities to Vietnamese, the migration of Vietnamese children exacerbated conflicts and intensified doubts about the nation's future. A botched airlift of children and its aftermath would further spotlight Vietnamese children, their tangled ties to Vietnamese kin who would claim belonging, and the complex, unresolved outcomes of U.S. violence in Asia.
This talk is derived from Allison Varzally's new book Children of Reunion: Vietnamese Adoptions and the Politics of Family Migrations (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Prof. Varzally teaches courses on U.S. history and California history with a particular focus on immigration and comparative race relations. Her first book, Making a Non-White America: Californians Coloring Outside Ethnic Lines (UC Press, 2008), examined multiethnic civil rights activism and the collapse of legal discrimination in education, housing, and marriage in the state after World War II. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA.