Public History Professor Curates Exhibit at American Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Professor Jennifer Dickey, an assistant professor of public history at Kennesaw State University,…
Georgia (Aug 10, 2009) — Professor Jennifer Dickey, an assistant professor of public history at Kennesaw State University, recently curated an exhibit on the history of U.S. diplomatic relations with Vietnam — a complex history that dates to the 18th century.
Dickey and her sister, U.S. diplomat Angela Dickey, conceived and produced the exhibit on behalf of the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where Angela is deputy consul general. The exhibit opened to the public July 2, 2009, at the Consulate’s Independence Day reception.
"While the story of American/Vietnamese relations is compelling,” explains Dickey, “equally as compelling was the process of putting together an exhibit that will be displayed by the U.S. government in a country that has a different view of that history.”
The history of U.S./Vietnamese diplomatic relations since World War II was considered too controversial to present in public from an American point of view, so the first phase of the exhibit covered only the period from the 1780s to 1941. Early reaction from within the Consulate has been resoundingly positive.
You are teaching us our own history,” one Vietnamese employee quipped as she admired the treasure trove of photographs and newspaper articles presented in the exhibit.
Dickey will use her experience in Vietnam to teach students in the fall 2009 “Museum Studies” class about the complexity of presenting the past to the public.
"This is an exciting opportunity for KSU’s Public History Certificate Program,” explained Dr. Catherine Lewis, an associate professor of history and the program’s coordinator. “One of this undergraduate program’s main goals is to build international partnerships. We have done that with museums in Cambodia, Morocco, and now, through Dr. Dickey’s efforts, Vietnam.”