Historical Memory of Southeast Asia in the United States

This edited volume sheds new light on US interventions in Southeast Asia after World War II, including US bombings in Laos and Cambodia. Please join us on October 28 for a discussion with Noam Chomsky, Elaine Russell, Channapha Khamvongsa, and Ngo Vinh Long and chapter authors about the way that this history continues to shape the lives of people in Southeast Asia today.

Featuring an opening keynote by Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair, University of Arizona.


Noam Chomsky, Laureate Professor of Linguistics and Agnese Nelms Haury Chair, University of Arizona

Considered the founder of modern linguistics, Noam Chomsky is one of the most cited scholars in modern history. Chomsky has transformed the field of linguistics and influenced fields such as cognitive science, philosophy, and anthropology. He joined the University of Arizona in fall 2017, coming from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he worked for more than fifty years as professor and then Institute Professor emeritus.

Ngo Vinh Long, Professor of History, University of Maine

Professor Ngo Vinh Long received a Ph. D. in East Asian History and Far Eastern Languages from Harvard University in 1978. He joined the Department of History at Maine in 1985 and has taught about the relations of the countries of Asia with each other and with the United States. His research has focused on rural development in East and Southeast Asia, the question of development, and the roles of governments in general. During the 2000-2001 academic year he served as a Fulbright scholar in Vietnam.

Elaine Russell, Author

Elaine graduated from the University of California at Davis with a history degree, then California State University Sacramento with a masters in economics. She has worked as a resource economist in the energy and environmental field, ran a consulting firm, and written research-based fiction. Her first novel originated from her interest in the Hmong immigrant community in Sacramento, and volunteers with the US-based nonprofit, Legacies of War. She has written and lectured extensively on the war in Laos and the exodus of Lao, Hmong, and other refugees once the conflict ended.

Channapha Khamvongsa, Founder and former Executive Director, Legacies of War

Channapha Khamvongsa is the founder and former Executive Director of Legacies of War, an organization that seeks to address the problem of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, advocate for UXO clearance and survivor assistance, to provide space for healing the wounds of war. Channapha led Legacies to successfully advocate for an increase in U.S. funding for bomb clearance in Laos, from an annual average of $2M in 2008 to $30M in 2016. She has also written and spoken widely about the secret war in Laos and its aftermath and has appeared in the New York Times, Democracy Now!, CNN, ABC, PBS and CBS News. She received a B.S. in Public Administration from George Mason University and Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University.

Charles Bailey, War Legacies Working Group Member

Charles Bailey led Ford Foundation grant making overseas through assignments in the Middle East, Eastern and Southern Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Bailey lived in Vietnam for ten years providing grants to Vietnamese organizations, and his work contributed to a breakthrough on dealing with the Agent Orange legacy of the Vietnam War. Since 2006, the U.S. and Vietnam have worked to support Vietnamese with disabilities linked with exposure to Agent Orange and successfully cleaned up residual dioxin at a former American airbase in Da Nang. Bailey is the co-author of From Enemies to Partners- Vietnam, the U.S. and Agent Orange with Dr. Le Ke Son.

Moderated by:

Sera Koulabdara serves as Executive Director of Legacies of War, the leading international U.S.-based educational and advocacy organization working to address the impact of conflict in Laos during the Vietnam War-era, including removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and survivor assistance. Prior to this role, Sera was a long time volunteer and served on Legacies’ board for over 4 years in multiple leadership positions including being the first Vice Chair.

Under Sera’s leadership, US funding for UXO clearance in Laos reached $40M – the highest level in history and the Legacies of War Recognition and UXO Removal Act was introduced on 9/24/20 by Senator Baldwin. If approved, this historic bill will recognize the people of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam who fought alongside American troops during the Vietnam War and authorizes landmark funding of $500M over 5 years divided among the 3 countries of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Brian Eyler, Senior Fellow and Director of the Southeast Asia Program, The Stimson Center

Brian is an expert on transboundary issues in the Mekong region and specializes in China’s economic cooperation with Southeast Asia. He spent more than 15 years living and working in China and over the last two decades has conducted extensive research with stakeholders in the Mekong region. He is widely recognized as a leading voice on environmental, energy, and water security issues in the Mekong. Brian is the co-chair of the Mekong Basin Connect program and serves as chair of the Stimson Center’s War Legacy Working Group.

This event is co-hosted with the Legacies of War and supported by the War Legacies Working Group.

Part of the War Legacies Working Group Project
Southeast Asia
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