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dc.contributor.authorMason, R
dc.contributor.authorJones, L
dc.contributor.editorBoyle B.M. and Lim J.Y.
dc.description.abstractThe war in Vietnam was the first time that conscripted Australian civilians had been sent to fight outside Australian territory, and sixty thousand Australian troops were eventually deployed. The conflict became bitterly divisive over time;· and many former service personnel found themselves socially ostracized on their return. The influx of Vietnamese refugees from 1976, following the communist victory, constituted the first significant number of nonwhite migrants to enter Australia since Federation in 1901. They too were viewed askance by the general population, and their experiences of pain and displacement were marginalized in a protracted debate about Australia's connectivity with Asia. This chapter explores how memories of Vietnam influence both Australian veterans and Vietnamese refugees of the conflict in that country. It does not seek to suggest that the two sets of experiences are equivalent or consistently comparable; bringing together these two narratives highlights separate yet complimentary tensions between each groups' "conscious and unconscious meanings of experience as lived and remembered" and powerful cultural memories that inform an emerging national consciousness regarding the Vietnam conflict.1 The significance lies in the relationship between memory and history, past and present, and its value in the possibility of new interpretations. This chapter derives from an extensive body of two hundred original interviews with Australian veterans of Vietnam. The interviews were conducted over a two-year period by Leonie Jones as part of a project seeking to give voice to veterans of the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral, Bien Hoa Province, in 1968. This chapter focuses on five key case studies in which veterans recall the Vietnam conflict, their return, and subsequent memories of that country. It juxtaposes these interviews with oral histories from former Vietnamese refugees who arrived in Australia after 1975. These oral histories were conducted as part of digital storytelling projects by the National Library of Australia and the State library of Queensland. Here too, five key case studies were selected for comparative analysis. The chapter questions how memories of Vietnam are constructed differently by Australian veterans and refugees. The racialized and militarized mythologies at the heart of Australian nationalism marginalized both groups in different ways. While veterans were unexpectedly denied the status of returned hero, refugees did not fit the paradigm of nation-building European migrant. Both disrupted the accepted categories of Australian citizenship, operating as forms of potential contagion at the heart of the national community. It is only recently that their stories have become publicly tellable.
dc.publisherRutgers University Press
dc.publisher.placeUnited States
dc.relation.ispartofbooktitleLooking Back on the Vietnam War: Twenty-first-Century Perspectives
dc.subject.fieldofresearchStudies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
dc.title"The Deep Black Hole": Vietnam in the Memories of Australian Veterans and Refugees
dc.typeBook chapter
dc.type.descriptionB1 - Chapters
dc.type.codeB - Book Chapters
gro.facultyArts, Education & Law Group, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences
gro.hasfulltextNo Full Text
gro.griffith.authorMason, Robert

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