034: Mark Phillip Bradley, 45


Edited by Bonnie K. Goodman

34: Mark Phillip Bradley, 10-30-06

Basic Facts

Teaching Position: Associate Professor, Department of History, Northwestern University, 2004-present.
Area of Research: Twentieth century U.S. international history and postcolonial Southeast Asian history
Education: Ph.D. History, Harvard University,1995
Major Publications: Bradley is the author of Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam (2000), which won the Harry J. Benda Prize from the Association for Asian Studies, and is co-editor of Truth Claims: Representation and Human Rights
(2001). Bradley’s current book projec include The United States and the Twentieth Century Global Human Rights Revolution, a book that explores the history of the contested and contingent meanings of the global human rights revolution in the twentieth century for Cambridge University Press; The Vietnam Wars, an international history of the wars in Vietnam, and Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars: Transnational and International Perspectives, co-editor with Marilyn B. Young, and edited book of several essays that explore the intersection of the transnational and the local in postcolonial Vietnam social and cultural history, both for Oxford University Press.
Awards: Bradley is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
Jean Gimbel Lane Professorship in the Humanities, Northwestern University, 2007-08;
Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars, American Council of Learned Societies, 2005-06;
National Endowment for the Humanities University Faculty Fellowship, 2002-03;
Fellow, Center for Twenty-First Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fall 2003, 2001-02;
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (alternative), 2002;
Faculty Research Grant, The University of Chicago, 1997-98;
Fellow, Center for Twentieth Century Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1997-98 (declined);
Undergraduate Teaching Improvement Grant, The University of Wisconsin System, 1996-97;
National Endowment for the Humanities Dissertation Fellowship, 1993-94;
Bernadotte E. Schmidt Grant for Research in the History of Europe, Africa and Asia, American Historical Assocation, 1993;
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 1991-92;
Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1991-1992;
Henry Luce Research Fellowship, Association for Asian Studies, 1991;
Kenneth T. Young Vietnam Research Fellowship, John King Fairbank Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1991;
Sidney J. Weinberg Research Fellowship, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, 1990;
Research Grant, Harry S. Truman Library Institute, 1990;
Abilene Travel Fellowship, The Eisenhower World Affairs Institute, 1990;
Research Grants, Charles Warren Center, Harvard University, Summer 1990 and 1991;
John Anson Kittridge Educational Fund Trust, 1989;
CBS Bicentennial Scholarship, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, 1987-1990;
Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (Vietnamese), 1990, 1987.
Additional Info:
Formerly Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2001-2003, Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 1995-1997, 1999-2001, and Assistant Professor, Department of History, The University of Chicago, 1997-1999.
Regularly review scholarly monographs and films for American Historical Review, Journal of American History, International History Review, Journal of Asian Studies, H-Net, Pacific Historical Review and Reviews in American History.
Co-Editor, America in the World Series, Cornell University Press. 2006- .
Bradley was the Panel Chair and Discussant, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations Annual Meeting, June 2005, and the Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, 2005.

Personal Anecdote

I have come to find the terrain of the global to be a wonderfully open and liberating scholarly space in which to work. If the boundaries of the historical actors with whom I am most concerned are fluid, so too are the boundaries for the international historian as she or he navigates and often crosses geographic, disciplinary and conceptual borders. The insights that can emerge from these transgressive moves have had a profound impact on my research and teaching. This has been especially the case in my current research on the contested meanings of what I term the global human rights revolution of the twentieth century. There are many conceptual challenges in undertaking such a work but one is that the very real emergence of global human rights norms and their protections can sometimes seem abstract and remote. Among the things I want to do with this project is to illuminate the ways in which these larger processes are very much rooted in the everyday actions of local actors. The importance of doing so first emerged for me several years ago when I met the Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzon and he told me this story.

Late in the day on a Friday in October 1998, Garzon was driving out of Madrid with a friend to meet their families at a country house for the weekend. His friend, as people often do after a long week at work, turned to Garzon at one point in the drive and asked, “So…how was your week?” Garzon pulled off to the side of the road and said, in almost disbelieving tones, “You know, I just faxed an extradition order to the British government against Augusto Pinochet to stand trial in Spain for crimes against humanity.” Until that moment, Garzon said, he hadn’t really absorbed the enormity of the action he had taken. Preoccupied with the mechanics and timing of drafting the arrest warrant -it had to be faxed to London by 5:00 p.m. that Friday- Garzon said he had temporarily lost sight of the larger forces his action could potentially set in motion.

Garzon’s actions were in many ways extraordinary. General Pincohet had come to London earlier in October of 1998 with few worries. While a 1991 report of the Chilean Truth and Reconciliation Commission had carefully documented the gross violations of human rights -literally thousands of cases of torture, assassination, execution and disappearances- that had taken place under the Pinochet regime, Pinochet himself had been given a title of “Senator for Life” that essentially protected him from any moves toward prosecution in Chile. At the international level, prevailing notions of sovereign immunity for heads of state appeared to offer him protection outside of Chile as well. Indeed, Pinochet was so little concerned with the implications of his visit to Great Britain that he hadn’t bothered to obtain a diplomatic passport to enter the county.

But the British government responded to Garzon’s request in ways that Pinochet and few others anticipated. After a series of legal battles, during which Pinochet was placed under house arrest, Britain’s highest court, the Law Lords, ruled that Pinochet did not enjoy immunity from prosecution for human rights abuses and could be extradited to Spain for some, though not all, of the charges made by Garzon. Universal jurisdiction, in the eyes of the Law Lords, trumped notions of sovereign immunity in cases of gross violations of human rights.

What has become known as the Pinochet case speaks to a variety of transformative changes in global apprehensions of human rights. But for me it was the personal dimensions of Garzon’s actions that were most striking and unexpected. The quotidian dimension of Garzon’s efforts to bring Pinochet to justice and his own surprised reaction to them were an invaluable reminder to me that what are often seen as norms and forces operating in a distant transnational space are in fact very much rooted in the acts of individuals who simultaneously share a local and global identity. As we craft new narratives of twentieth century international history, invariably structural forces are a critical part of the story. But so too, although sometimes harder to capture, is the contingency and agency of individual actors that are both shaped by and themselves shape the contours of that narrative.


By Mark Philip Bradley

  • “Strikingly, Vietnamese and American perceptions of each other and their imaginings of Vietnam’s postcolonial future drew on a shared vocabulary, but one mediated though external sources and then reproduced and transformed in a variety of Vietnamese and American idioms. The perceptions of the United States and articulations Imagining Vietnam and America JPGof postcolonial Vietnam by Vietnamese revolutionaries were shaped by modernist currents of thought that entered Vietnam through the works of reformers and radicals in China and through the lived experience of French colonial rule. The ensemble of assumptions through which Americans apprehended the Vietnamese, often posed in Social Darwinian, neo-Lamarckian, or Orientalist terms, were a part of the culturally hierarchical discourse that infused the theory and practice of Western imperialism…..From the perspective of Vietnamese and American political elites in the fall of 1945, the subsequent course of Vietnamese-American relations was surely an unimagined contingency. Neither side could have anticipated they would face each other as enemies in 1950 when the colonial war between the French and the Vietnamese was transformed into an arena of the Cold War. Nor could they envision that they would send troops into battle against one another by 1965 as Vietnam became the central Cold War battleground. But as the Cold War came to Vietnam, the overlapping and intertwined meanings accorded to the historical rupture of decolonization in 1945, and the relationship between the colonial past and the postcolonial future, remained central to the subsequent course of Vietnamese-American relations. For both Vietnamese and American policy makers, the largely imagined Vietnam and America that were constructed during the interwar and World War II periods fundamentally shaped the contours of the postcolonial Vietnamese state and its place in the articulation of post-1945 international order.” — Mark Philip Bradley, “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950,” pp. 6-7

About Mark Philip Bradley

  • “Mark Bradley’s fine book constitutes cultural history and international relations at its best. His wide reading in Vietnamese, French, and American materials (in a field where sadly few Western scholars can read Vietnamese), provides a landmark in proper method and a major contribution to our understanding of the origins of American-Vietnamese antagonism. In deft and finely written brushstrokes he paints the Vietnamese into the center of a picture heretofore illumed mostly by American stories that only an American would believe. Although much of Professor Bradley’s account covers a long period before the Vietnam War that most Americans know little about, his sensitive analysis will help them to grasp how this ancient, small and superficially weak nation triumphed over the world’s most powerful country. More than that, Imagining Vietnam and America is an important step forward in the field of international history–how to think about the subject, and how to go about doing it. A splendid accomplishment.”– Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Mark Philip Bradley achieves two frequently invoked but rarely realized goals in Imagining Vietnam and America: he places his subject firmly in an international context, and he transcends the tenacious hold of Cold War paradigms on post-1945 historiography. Vietnam ensnared by hot and cold wars is the end, not the beginning, of this complex study of culture and ideas in which the ideals of an imagined America animated Vietnamese revolutionaries even as an imagined Vietnam dictated American policies. This account, which draws on Vietnamese, French, British, and American archives, transforms our understanding not only of Vietnam and the United States, but of the world in which colonized peoples attempted to become modern postcolonial states. Imagining Vietnam and America possesses, in full measure, the virtue of major historical contributions: to instruct and astonish.” — Marilyn B. Young, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990 reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Based upon an impressive array of Vietnamese, French, and American sources, Imagining Vietnam and America is at once a multiarchival and multicultural history of the early Vietnamese-American relationship. It reminds us that the expectations people hold shape what they make of the experiences they have. It shows how artificial distinctions between domestic and foreign policy can sometimes be. And it reveals how many fresh insights can emerge, even on a familiar topic, when a young, accomplished, and imaginative scholar accords culture an equal status with diplomacy in researching and writing international history.” — John Lewis Gaddis, Yale University reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Bradley. . . draw[s] on Vietnamese-language sources to an extraordinary degree­and in the process turns up information that may surprise many of his American readers. . . . Bradley’s effort to place American?Vietnamese relations in a broader context is welcome.” ­- New York Times Book Review reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “This book is a rare and wonderful thing: a study of United States-Vietnam relations that says new things in new ways. . . . As perceptive a study of the roots of the Vietnam conflict as we are likely to get.” — Journal of American History reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “This insightful book explains better than any work thus far why Americans believed they could replace the French without inheriting the stigma of colonialism and, despite France’s disastrous experience, succeed militarily against the Viet Cong . . . . Those who believe that culture matters in international relations will find much support for their arguments in this brief but significant work.” — Political Science Quarterly reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “This book will stand tall among the many studies examining the relations between the United States and Vietnam.” — American Historical Review reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “[This book] is a pioneering effort. It is the sort of culturally grounded, multi-lingual, multi-archival work, which historians are always babbling about but so few have so far been able to do. We can only hope that it is the beginning of a trend.” — Reviews in American History reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Thoughtful and thought-provoking, Bradley’s book succeeds admirably.”–Cold War History
  • “This is a highly sophisticated work and recommended reading for any serious student of culture, diplomacy, intellectual history, and the making of the postcolonial world.” — Journal of Military History reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “This splendid book calls for a reconsideration of both the international history of the twentieth century and the dynamics of the U.S.-Vietnam conflict by positing a nexus between culture and diplomacy.” — Choice reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Bradley scrupulously analyzes the scholarship of the postcolonial period of Vietnam’s turbulent history and the cataclysmic events that followed.” — Library Journal reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Bradley’s brave attempt to bring the imaginative domain of cultural understanding and its symbolic language to the field of U.S. diplomatic history . . . puts the book in an innovative and exceptional category.” — Journal of Asian Studies reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”
  • “Makes significant contributions to the studies of twentieth-century American foreign relations and (post-) colonialism. . . . A highly insightful book, with impressive depth and reach, based on diligent research in a wide array of sources. Both students and specialists will find it eminently useful.” — Southeast Asian Studies reviewing “Imagining Vietnam and America: The Making of Postcolonial Vietnam, 1919-1950”

Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 7:34 PM

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