On October 19, GETSEA will be hosting our second Community Book Read with Christian Lentz, winner of the 2021 Benda Prize.
Lentz’s work focuses broadly on Southeast Asia’s politics, society and environment by focusing on nationalism, state formation and agrarian political economy. He has been a professor in the Department of Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill since 2011 and served as interim director of the Carolina Asia Center in Spring 2020.
In the book Contested Territory: Ðien Biên Phu and the Making of Northwest Vietnam, Lentz explores the 1954 battle of Ðien Biên Phu, where French colonial forces were defeated by the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). This marked the end of the French empire in modern Vietnam, as well as Cambodia and Laos. Lentz expands his analysis of the battle to include the encompassing Black River region and a longer time frame, from 1945 to 1960, thus contextualizing a significant moment in world history. He also offers a novel conceptualization of territory as a contested process, political technology, and contingent outcome of grounded struggles.
Students and faculty at GETSEA institutions are encouraged to read the book (with copies available through their institutional libraries), and to join us on Zoom for a lively discussion with Christian Lentz.