Published in Southeast Review of Asian Studies, Volume 27, January 1, 2005, pages 37-48.
Copyright © 2005 Christina Firpo. First published in Southeast Review of Asian Studies.
The history of the immediate aftermath of the declaration of independence in Vietnam on September 2, 1945 awaits a socio-cultural analysis. Historiography of this period is saturated with military and political analyses. But how much do we really know about its social programs and cultural history? This paper examines the socio-cultural history of the child during the revolution. In the midst of forming a new government, unifying the anti-colonial movement, and fighting the return of the French colonial government, President Hồ Chí Minh called on the youth to liberate southern Vietnam.1 How did the government prepare the children for wartime and what was the child’s place in revolutionary society?
I will use the Thiếu Sinh children’s magazine, which was state-sponsored, to explore the revolutionary’s government cultural imaginings of the child’s place in society. From its perspective, the child was neither wholly passive nor a subordinate child solider. The child was expected to be an active member of society, functioning as a kind of social reserve for the future of independent Vietnam. Children were expected to devote their physical and intellectual education to the betterment of revolutionary Vietnam. In essence, from the point of view of the magazine, children did not exist so much as present members of society as prospective contributors to the collective future of revolutionary society.