Jessica Breiteneicher, Doctoral Candidate in History at UCLA
This talk will focus on the work of the International Voluntary Services (IVS) volunteers in Vietnam between 1957 and 1965. Funded by the US government to improve the standard of living in South Vietnam and bolster the nascent South Vietnamese government, IVS administered American material aid and provided technical support to Vietnamese modernization endeavors. The IVS volunteers sought to usher in an era of economic and humanitarian development through person to person contact and grassroots methods. The talk explores the experiences and contributions of the American volunteers, who worked primarily in the areas of agricultural assistance, education, and malaria control, as well as some of the challenges they faced working and living in the provinces of South Vietnam. In addition, it examines the relationships between these Americans and their Vietnamese colleagues, students, neighbors, and friends. Finally, it attempts to shed some light on the impact that these Americans and the programs they initiated had on rural Vietnamese society as well as they ways they may have shaped Vietnamese attitudes about American intervention in Vietnam before the war.
A 5th year student in the History Ph.D. program at UCLA, Jessica Breiteneicher is currently researching and writing her dissertation, which will deal with a series of American development programs in Vietnam in the 1950s and early sixties. Her goal in this project is to broaden the scope of academic discourse on American involvement in Vietnam, especially in the pre-war period, to include the work of civilians and non-state actors on both the American and Vietnamese sides. She hopes that this study will expose the many ways that diplomacy and foreign relations occur outside of formal diplomatic and military circles. She has presented several papers at conferences, including the Western Conference for the Association of Asian Studies and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Policy.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies