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Spiritual care and memory activism at the former Republic of Vietnam military cemetery
Đạt Nguyễn

Following the end of the Vietnam–American War in 1975, the commemoration of the fallen soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) remains a difficult issue. The post-war Vietnamese state has marginalised ARVN dead from its national commemorative practices, while it has destroyed or neglected former South Vietnam memorial sites. This article provides an examination of recent efforts by local ARVN former combatants, living relatives of fallen soldiers and young Vietnamese to attend to the upkeep of the former ARVN cemetery in southern Vietnam. Based on participant observation and interviews, I explore how people care for the dead through regular acts of grave maintenance and religious rituals. I show that, through these persistent practices of care, southern Vietnamese engage in a form of memory activism to ensure the continual existence of the cemetery and lay claims to the right to mourn for the marginalised dead.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal