The Challenges of Peace: US-Vietnam Relations since 1975 International Symposium

Call for Papers: 

The Challenges of Peace: US-Vietnam Relations since 1975 International Symposium

Organizers: The Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California Berkeley and the US-Vietnam Research Center at the University of Oregon

Symposium date: September 13-14, 2025

Location: University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

US-Vietnam relations have changed significantly since the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975 when the two countries were bitter enemies. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the conclusion of that conflict, Hanoi and Washington have just upgraded their relationship and become “comprehensive strategic partners.” The United States is Vietnam’s second largest trading partner, and Vietnam ranks fifth globally in the number of students it sends to the U.S. This is an impressive improvement in relations between two countries with opposing ideologies and a history of violent confrontation.

Nevertheless, many feel that the relationship could have advanced much further and taken advantage of numerous missed opportunities. Some are doubtful about the prospects for deepening the relationship in the future, given Vietnam’s still close ties to Russia and China, America’s opponents on the world stage. This half-century anniversary offers an opportunity to assess and reflect upon the bilateral relationship which leaders of both countries value highly. 

Scholarship on US-Vietnam relations has focused on the war that ended 50 years ago but not on the peace since. Hence, the complex processes of post-conflict reconstruction, normalization, and reconciliation remain poorly understood. The meaning of peace and the post-conflict behavior of the victors, the vanquished, and neutral parties have yet to be explored systematically and in depth. For historians of the Vietnam War, the study of post-conflict peace may illuminate the costs, causes and consequences of the war, and call for a rethinking of popular assumptions about missed chances for peace.

We invite paper proposals from U.S., international and Vietnam-based scholars, analysts, practitioners, and students on the four sets of themes and questions as follows:

I. Then and Now

What is the current status of US-Vietnam relations? Are the two countries close or not? How did we get here? What may have been missed opportunities to deepen the relationship since 1975? What do Vietnam and the U.S. mean to each other, for the elites as well as for common people in both countries? To what extent does the past bear on the relationship? Are there comparable cases of reconciliation between two hostile countries? Which theories of international relations best explain the evolution of the relationship?

II. Dynamics, Parameters, and Agents of Change

What are the major factors driving or constraining US-Vietnam relations: national interests, domestic politics, culture, or ideology? What are the major convergent and divergent interests between the U.S. and Vietnam? How do deep asymmetries in the relationship affect it? How are images of the other presented in each country, and to what extent have they shaped the relationship? Who are the agents of change: politicians, military officers and veterans, business and labor leaders, professional, religious, artistic, and nongovernmental organizations, intellectuals, scholars, students, activists, Vietnamese Americans, or Mark Zuckerberg?

III. Regional and Global Contexts

What does Vietnam and the U.S. mean to each other in regional and global contexts? How do China, Russia, and other powers influence US-Vietnam relations? How is the relationship affected by the rising ambitions of China, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, a new Cold War between the U.S. and China-Russia, a resurgence of global Islamism, new U.S. military entanglements in the Middle East and central Asia, the militarization of Japan, the regional ascent of authoritarianism, the deepening division within ASEAN, and China’s expansion of influence in Cambodia and Laos?

IV. The Future of US-Vietnam Relations

What past lessons may have value for the future? How do theories of international relations predict the future evolution of the relationship? Will the two countries ever fully overcome political differences and past hostilities? Will the two countries ever enter a formal alliance? What are the conditions for that to happen? Is that what the U.S. or Vietnam really needs or wants? If it is, how to make that happen sooner if not later?

Please submit your abstract by July 31st, 2024 to the US-Vietnam Research Center at All abstracts should be limited to 250 words and sent as attachments in MS Word format. The subject of the email should specify “Abstract for the US-Vietnam Relations Symposium” and the body of the email should include the following information:

  • Author name(s), institutional affiliation(s), and a primary email address;

  • Title of paper;

  • The abstract

We have limited funding for participants’ travel and accommodation expenses; please indicate if you would require financial support to attend the Symposium. Authors whose proposals are selected will be notified by September 15th, 2024. A draft of proposed papers is due by July 1st, 2025. We expect to edit and publish symposium papers with a university press or as a special journal issue.