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Rubber and the Making of VietnamAn Ecological History, 1897-1975$
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Michitake Aso

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469637150

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469637150.001.0001

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Militarizing Rubber

Militarizing Rubber

(p.245) Chapter Seven Militarizing Rubber
Rubber and the Making of Vietnam

Michitake Aso

University of North Carolina Press

The extreme violence brought to bear on the Vietnamese society and environment by the American war machine during the 1960s meant that measures taken by South Vietnamese leaders ended up sustaining plantation production. Ironically, the communist insurgency also benefited from rubber plantations, which continued to serve as a valuable source of material and recruits. Meanwhile, North Vietnamese rubber experts worked to extend the range of hevea into more northern latitudes so that latex could flow in the socialist world. Chapter 7 extends the history of rubber to 1975 to show the ways that memories of colonialism continued to structure thoughts and behavior regarding rubber, and suggests why human-environment interactions on the plantations of post-1975 socialist Vietnam often resembled those of their colonial predecessors. This chapter focuses on the degree to which colonial discourse as materialized on plantations was subverted by various actors and revisits the historiography of the Vietnam War by adopting the lens of environmental history to show the unexpected consequences of plantation agriculture. Finally, it considers how the post–World War II development of “synthetic” rubber affected the actions of those associated with “natural” rubber plantations.

Keywords:   labor movement, modernity, National Liberation Front, planners, postcolonial Vietnam, Rubber Research Institute of Vietnam, socialist plantation, synthetic rubber, Vietnam War

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