Provisioning and the Transpacific Spatiality of Detention: Enemy Prisoner of War Logistics in Vietnam

Authors: Richard Nisa*, Fairleigh Dickinson University
Topics: Political Geography, Historical Geography
Keywords: Vietnam War, Transpacific Studies, Carceral Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I explore the transnational circuits of labor, materials requisitioning and supply, and architectural design and engineering that facilitated the production of prisoner of war camps in the Vietnam War. The Vietnam War saw two distinct detention systems, each with its own history and internal practices. First was the provincial and national prison system already in place when US military advisors arrived, run by the South Vietnamese police apparatus built on the skeletons of the French colonial system. This civilian infrastructure included both prisons (for convicted criminals) and jails (for those either serving sentences of less than a year or waiting for sentencing). These spaces came together at the nexus of French colonial rule and US Cold War empire. As such, they represent the coming together of a suite of transnational spaces consisting of encounters between private military contractors, Vietnamese logistics labor and proxy police forces. In this exploratory paper, I describe this dynamic set of spaces and the performance of the spaces between things themselves—technological objects, police apparatuses, civilian and military populations—in a spatial and historical context.

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