Unclear path: Explosive remnants of war in Vietnam

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Land mines, Explosive remnants of war, Vietnam, Social movements, Clear Path International

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Much of the research on war and peace focuses on the consequences of war in wartime. My research merges the framework used to study war, feminist critiques of militarism, and social movement theory to understand the problem of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. I argue that the presence of landmines and other unexploded ordnance (ERW) blurs the boundary between war and peace for the individuals living in areas littered with these weapons. Specifically, I show the consequences of ERW on the civilian population and the response to the problem 30 years after the U.S.-Vietnam War was declared over.

In my dissertation, I conducted in-depth interviews with ten ERW victims to investigate the consequences of the presence of ERW. Analysis of the interviews revealed individuals are affected physically, occupationally, economically, socially, and psychologically or mentally. To understand a response to the ERW problem, I use participant observation of and in-depth interviewing with the staff of Clear Path International. Investigation of Clear Path shows how victim assistance is conducted and the coping strategies developed by individuals engaged in this type of work. I also locate the work of victim assistance through the lens of the work of Clear Path in the larger social movement to eradicate ERW.

ERW are a novel problem because unlike other social problems with plausible solutions, the ERW problem will exist as long as there are military conflicts. There are a few international laws regarding the use, development, and manufacture of these weapons and a strong social movement advocating for the elimination of ERW, however a permanent solution remains elusive.


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