International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

In Search of Kilometer Zero: Digital archives, Technological Revisionism, and the Sino-Vietnamese Border

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Bùi Minh Quoc left for the border in late 2001. His clandestine trip, which took nearly a month to complete on a 50cc Honda Cub motorcycle, retraced the perimeter of Viet Bac, the name for the mountainous region that stretches across ten provinces in northeastern Vietnam. Quoc, a poet of considerable repute, documented the highpoints of the ride in verse. But the region's rugged beauty, which holds a prominent place in official histories of the anti-colonial struggle against the French and those who collaborated with them, was not the real reason for his quest. Nor was the region's more recent reincarnation as a socialist battleground during the Third Indochina War with the People's Republic of China, a conflict that killed and wounded an estimated one hundred thousand people in the space of a month. Instead, Quoc's self-appointed task was to find the current location of "Kilometer Zero" (Cay so không) along the Sino-Vietnamese border - a difficult proposition since it appears nowhere on official maps of the country. Nonetheless, the toponym is commonly used to refer to the precise spot in Lang Son Province where National Highway 1A, the only paved road to traverse the entire length of Vietnam, begins its long journey south. © 2008 Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History.

Publication Title

Comparative Studies in Society and History

Publication Date

10-8-2008

Volume

50

Issue

4

First Page

862

Last Page

894

ISSN

0010-4175

DOI

10.1017/S0010417508000376

Keywords

Communist revisionism, sovereignty, nationalism, national character, Communist parties, geography, geographical boundaries

Disciplines

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology

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