The Post-War Reconciliation Process Of New Zealand Vietnam War Veterans

by Maria Dorsey

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Reconciliation; Contact theory; New Zealand; Vietnam War
Record ID: 1300916
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/5378


Contact is an essential component in addressing prejudice, resolving conflict and improving intergroup attitudes and relations. War encourages prejudice, stereotyping and dehumanization between military combatants. In order to reduce these negative affects within a post-war context, intergroup contact serves as a mechanism which rehumanizes the enemy, facilitates reconciliation and generates peace. Intergroup contact plays a prominent role in psycho social healing and the reconciliation process with self and others in post-war environments. This thesis assesses the impact of contact on reconciliatory processes at home and abroad. In particular it looks at the ways in which New Zealand Vietnam veteran visits to Vietnam after the war assisted a range of self-other reconciliation processes with the Vietnamese and with self. A triangulated approach was applied to the data collection by drawing on primary and secondary sources in order to study reconciliatory processes amongst New Zealand Vietnam war veterans. Through utilizing qualitative research methods of document analysis and 23 in-depth interviews the thesis concludes intergroup contact plays a vital role in self-other reconciliation processes. Furthermore, an analysis of New Zealand Vietnam War veterans who have and have not returned to post-war Vietnam was conducted to determine the effect of these visits on the reconciliation process. The three themes that emerged from the collected data were focused on the importance of contact for reconciliation with the Vietnamese, fellow countrymen, and with self. Reconciliation with countrymen was an important component of Veterans dealing with the negative reputation they suffered for serving in Vietnam. While post war contact was an important part of this process it was also affected by public reception, government actions and eventual acceptance by veterans from preceding wars. Reconciliation with Vietnamese was affected by the veterans’ military role in the war and contact experiences with the Vietnamese people during and after the war. The process of reconciling with self was influenced by acceptance of one’s role in the war and positive contact with others. This thesis demonstrates that intergroup contact plays an integral role in the facilitation of psycho-social healing and the processes of reconciliation. These findings hold theoretical importance in terms of providing greater understanding of the relationship between intergroup contact, tourism and post-war reconciliation.