This page was created by Michitake Aso. The last update was by David Ambaras.
Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian HistoryMain MenuGet to Know the SiteGuided TourShow Me HowA click-by-click guide to using this siteModulesRead the seventeen spatial stories that make up Bodies and Structures 2.0Tag MapExplore conceptsComplete Grid VisualizationDiscover connectionsGeotagged MapFind materials by geographic locationLensesCreate your own visualizationsWhat We LearnedLearn how multivocal spatial history changed how we approach our researchAboutFind information about contributors and advisory board members, citing this site, image permissions and licensing, and site documentationTroubleshootingA guide to known issuesAcknowledgmentsThank youDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277Kate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5fThis project was made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
12020-07-28T09:41:20-04:00Michitake Asoc957806dd05559bbe07c540e9ab4cd46aae194d33519Background Information for northern Vietnamplain2021-04-15T22:49:27-04:00Michitake AsoDavid Ambaras1337d6b66b25164b57abc529e56445d238145277After the Nguyen dynasty (est. 1802) established their Vietnamese empire in Hue, the Red River Delta became one of two rice baskets (the other being the Mekong Delta) sitting at the end of a long pole. Thus, the Red River Delta, and northern Vietnam, were incorporated into a Vietnamese national space, or geobody, that deemphasized the delta's ties with southern China clear in borderland and Sinosphere geographies. Another result of establishing the Nguyen dynasty in Hue was the demotion of Hanoi, and its accompanying markets, to regional significance. A representation of this national space is the following excerpt from a 1838 map. In this partial reproduction, northern Vietnam is at the top and Hue is at the bottom. This map uses the derogative "An Nam" or pacified south, rather than the names "Đại Nam" or "Yuë Nan" as mentioned in the page on the Red River Delta in the Sinosphere. It is possible that this map's European makers did not appreciate the different implications of these terms.
The S-shaped view of Vietnam is even clearer in this full 1889 map of French Indochina.
Look at any map of Vietnam today and you'll see a representation of northern Vietnam in national space.
This page has paths:
12020-08-02T12:52:47-04:00Michitake Asoc957806dd05559bbe07c540e9ab4cd46aae194d3Orientation: Cartographies of Northern VietnamKate McDonald15Path A side pathplain48012021-08-10T18:18:07-04:00China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam1800-1954Michitake AsoKate McDonald306bb1134bc892ab2ada669bed7aecb100ef7d5f
12019-11-18T15:48:28-05:00Mapping Invasion: Vietnamese Responses to Biological Warfare During the First Indochina War55Michitake Asoimage_header48972021-06-22T16:39:53-04:00Tonkin22.0000, 105.0000Hanoi21.00311, 105.82014Chiem Hoa22.159952, 105.273503Hue16.469155, 107.576461Thanh Hoa19.809090, 105.783020Beijing39.92284, 116.40120Pyongyang39.019282, 125.752754Northern Vietnam21.814229, 105.212900Dien Bien Phu21.392808, 103.019702Paris48.8667, 2.3333Phu Tho21.42197, 105.22969Bac Giang21.28199, 106.19747Cao Bang22.66663, 106.26398Hai Ninh20.97186, 106.80353Lang Son21.8537, 106.76151Vinh Phuc21.36088, 105.54743Tuyen Quang21.77672, 105.22801Yen Bai21.71676, 104.89858Thai Nguyen21.56715, 105.8252Bac Ninh21.17817, 106.07102Ha Giang22.80255, 104.97844Quang Yen20.83053, 106.67517521.589283, 105.828573Frederick39.441169, -77.4243561946-1954Michitake AsoHo Chi MinhTôn Thất TùngVietnamese Patriotic Hygiene Movement
This module analyzes Vietnamese responses to the French military's possible use of biological warfare during the First Indochina War (1946-1954). Beginning in 1952, the Việt Minh, the anti-colonial popular front forces led by Ho Chi Minh, collected reports of French airplanes releasing powders, worm-infested leaflets, and other strange substances over Việt Minh-controlled territory in and around the Red River Delta. These reports assumed that the strange substances were biological weapons, including insects and microbes meant either to sicken or kill humans directly or to infect plants and animals and threaten the Vietnamese food supply. Such reports lasted until at least the battle of Điện Biên Phủ in 1954.
This module argues that Vietnamese responses to biological warfare were inherently spatial. They depended, for example, on mapping information gathered from dispersed sources, from conferences held in China to surveys of farmers in the Red River Delta. Moreover, this intellectual geography overlapped, and existed in tension, with a political geography of civilizations, regions, and nation-states, an emotional geography of fear, and a medical geography that linked airplanes, environments, microbes, and humans. Unpacking the (non) event of biological warfare shows, in turn, how responses to biological weapons had complicated effects on Vietnamese spatial imaginaries. From a Vietnamese perspective, germ warfare helped place northern Vietnam in reconfigured Sinosphere and borderland relationships and created newer nationalist and revolutionary worlds. In other words, this period shows a mix of old and new maps being used to understand new hybrid environments of microbial, human, and machine movement.
To make maps useful for combatting biological warfare, the Việt Minh had to understand conditions in local places at specific moments. Moving from generalized knowledge about the Sinosphere to specific knowledge about places in the Red River Delta took hard work. This module seeks to trace and, in a limited way, reproduce the labor needed to map the mobilities and immobilities of invasion. In other words, the structure of this module mimics the movement from general to specific, and old to new, and the intellectual and physical labor needed to make such a move. Such a structure encourages users to reflect on how historical actors moved between scales that were different in quantity and in quality, shifting between different geographic scales—global, regional, national, and local—and different types of maps—civilizational, emotional, and biogeographical. In other words, this module examines what certain Vietnamese thought about biological warfare and to explain what those actors thought with and how these structures changed over time.
This module is divided into three pathways, each of which explores a different theme in biological warfare. Path A is called "Learning from the Korean War." It encourages users to explores communist charges of biological warfare in North Korea and northeast China leveled against the United States military. It examines notes from a Vietnamese delegation to an international conference about biological warfare along with Chinese posters produced as part of a patriotic hygiene movement. A side path shows how northern Vietnam has been incorporated into various spatial imaginaries. Path B is called "Surveying Northern Vietnam." It encourages users to explore biological warfare in northern Vietnam during the First Indochina War. Drawing from reports of the Committee to Prevent Germs, this path traces the steps that the Việt Minh took to produce knowledge about biological warfare. A side path explores the life of one of the committee's leaders, the famous Vietnamese medical doctor Tôn Thất Tùng. Finally, this path offers a Google map of a few suspected incidents of biological weapons use drawn from the committee's work and other Việt Minh reports. Path C is called "Preparing for Biological Warfare." Such efforts included included producing and distributing a pamphlet meant to popularize knowledge about the history of American and Japanese use of biological weapons. This pamphlet sought to mobilize domestic Vietnamese audiences to fight. It aimed as well to show international audiences the Vietnamese connections to the communist revolutions that had taken place in China and Korea. Finally, the Việt Minh organized a Vietnamese Patriotic Hygiene Movement modeled on the Chinese Patriotic Hygiene Movement.
Click here for a list of references for this module, which is also available from the module's Conclusion page.
12019-11-18T15:48:28-05:00Surveying Northern Vietnam31Mapping knowledge about germ warfareplain48262021-08-10T18:19:00-04:0021.814229, 105.212900Northern Vietnam1946-1954Michitake AsoViệt MinhCommittee to Prevent Germs
In a now largely forgotten episode of the First Indochina War (1946-1954), the Việt Minh charged the French with the use of biological weapons after similar allegations had been made against the US military in North Korea and northeast China. This path explores the work the Việt Minh did to map knowledge of imperialistic germ warfare onto Northern Vietnam. See Christopher Goscha's, Phi Van Nguyen's, and Simon Abdela's on-line resource for a historical dictionary of the First Indochina War.
Mapping is a way to bound local space in a particular time. In response to fears of biological warfare, Vietnamese leaders sought to map emotional geographies of fear through surveys of countryside. Such mapping drew on older Sinosphere, borderland, and national geographies as well as newer aerial geographies.
First consider the Việt Minh's investigations of biological warfare through its Committee to Prevent Germs. You can also explore a side path that looks at the life and work of one of the Committee's leaders, Tôn Thất Tùng. Then, look at the rural surveys conducted by the Việt Minh and consider what their results tell us about germ warfare in northern Vietnam and rural society of the 1950s more generally.
As you read through this path, keep the following questions in mind:
What was it like to be on the receiving end of germ warfare? How did experts and lay people in Vietnam react to being the target of alleged biological weapon? How did Vietnamese scientists, politicians, and citizens seek to mitigate the effects of biological warfare (real and imagined)?
This page references:
1media/Tabula geographica imperii anamitici 1838_thumb.png2020-07-28T14:34:54-04:00Tabula geographica imperii anamitici 18387Indochina Map with Red River Delta Provinces pngmedia/Tabula geographica imperii anamitici 1838.pngplain2020-09-09T14:08:13-04:00Vietnam National Library.1838Michitake AsoMA-0016