Contested Territory

Dien Bien Phu and the Making of Northwest Vietnam

Christian C. Lentz

View Inside Price: $35.00


April 23, 2019
352 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
23 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300233957
HC - Paper over Board

The definitive account of one of the most important battles of the twentieth century, and the Black River borderlands’ transformation into Northwest Vietnam

This new work of historical and political geography ventures beyond the conventional framing of the Battle of Ði?n Biên Ph?, the 1954 conflict that toppled the French empire in Indochina. Tracking a longer period of anticolonial revolution and nation-state formation from 1945 to 1960, Christian Lentz argues that a Vietnamese elite constructed territory as a strategic form of rule. Engaging newly available archival sources, Lentz offers a novel conception of territory as a contingent outcome of spatial contests.

Christian C. Lentz is associate professor of geography at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

"A brilliant, original work that makes a valuable, ground-level contribution to our historical understanding of a major event of the global twentieth century."—Ben Kiernan, Yale University, author of Viêt Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present

"Emplotting the history of Ðiên Biên Phu into the story of Vietnam's multiethnic Northwest, Christian Lentz poses questions about space, power, and territory that will stay with readers long after the final page."—Bradley Camp Davis, author of Imperial Bandits: Outlaws and Rebels in the China-Vietnam Borderlands

"This masterfully-researched book offers an innovative approach to our understanding of how people and places once considered marginal became integrated into Vietnam’s national project and how its state territory was produced."—Oscar Salemink, University of Copenhagen

"An extraordinary achievement of historical and political geography as well as agrarian studies"—Emily T. Yeh, author of Taming Tibet: Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development

"In this definitive study of Ðiên Biên Phu, Christian Lentz brilliantly illuminates issues of territory and territoriality, processes of nation-building, contests over land and labor, and relations between local peoples and the state."—Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Harvard University

"Developing theories through the field and archives, Lentz compellingly demonstrates the mutability of territorial arrangements. The emphasis on grounded struggles adds a crucial dimension to the process of making territory."—Stuart Elden, author of The Birth of Territory

"At long last, a deep history of Ðiên Biên Phu that takes us beyond the conventional narratives and hagiographic tropes. Based on exhaustive research and adept deployment of theory, Contested Territory will be required reading for anyone interested in the Vietnamese revolution specifically and the fraught construction of nationalist spaces more widely."—Lien-Hang Nguyen, Columbia University

"This political ethnography of territory-making on the frontiers of an emergent Vietnam takes us on a front-seat ride through processes of state formation and agrarian transformation.  Set in the decades preceding an iconic war, it contains lessons for scholars of Southeast Asia and beyond."—Nancy Peluso, Henry J. Vaux Distinguished Professor of Forest Policy, University of California, Berkeley

Contested Territory is a major addition to our understanding of the making of Vietnam and a must for any academic library.”—C.C. Lovett, Choice
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