Contested Territory of Dien Bien Phu
The mission: to document and visualize cultural landscapes of the Black River region in an effort to better understand Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s
The National Humanities Center (NHC) has been selected to partner with Vietnam National University (VNU) to develop digital instructional resources that allow for a deeper understanding of the American Vietnamese War. This initiative, supported by a grant from the Fostering Innovation through Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Project for Vietnam, will bring together a team of Vietnamese and American educators, scholars, and situation-based technology experts to form a TransPacific Teacher Scholars program and create curriculum and digital tools that examine the political, social, cultural, economic, and historical complexities surrounding the conflict.
Focusing on the Black River region and Dien Bien Phu, the team of researchers and educators will seek to tell the region’s layered story using visualization technologies by considering questions such as: why did the U.S. support the side it did in the Vietnam conflict; how can we provide a better understanding of the causes of the Vietnam War by looking at the post-World War II events in and around Dien Bien Phu; and how can students use the humanities to interrogate place and landscape in places like Dien Bien Phu to understand complex layers of culture, history, memory and place.
This work will rely on the visualization power of key technologies to reveal core understandings in the scholarship through different humanities disciplines. Our deliverable will be a classroom-ready set of resources that will enable students in middle and secondary grades as well as college and university courses to interrogate cultural, political, social, and military landscapes in order to understand Vietnam’s diverse society.
The team will identify several key narratives of the French-Vietnamese conflict of the 1950s and the events at Dien Bien Phu. Our disciplinary consultants will then identify, collect, and curate content that will be placed in the digital classroom tools.
Our final work will take several digital formats:
- A collection of StoryMaps that place digital content and artifacts on interactive maps
- A collection of FreshAiR augmented realities that access digital content and artifacts through a location-based mobile app
- A series of podcasts that capture the narrative storylines of the development of this project
- A web-based collection of lessons and approaches that integrate these tools in classroom instruction