Linh Vu

Research Interests: 

My dissertation, “The Sovereignty of the War Dead: Martyrs, Memorials, and the Makings of Modern China, 1912-1949,” examines the efforts of the Chinese nation-state to record, commemorate, and compensate for militant and civilian dead and how such efforts transformed social and cultural institutions. I analyze such republican government policies as the tracking of casualties, the compilation of martyrs’ biographies, the construction of county martyrs’ shrines, and the distribution of gratuities to families of the war dead. In the context of twentieth-century China, fallen soldiers and civilians gained posthumous significance by serving as intimate bonds between the new political regime and the old familial lineage, as haunting ghosts of the local community, as ancestral deities of the imagined nation-state, and as bones of contention in international disputes. I demonstrate how the nation-state’s effort to manage its war dead touches upon multiple facets of China’s modernity, significantly altering the relationships between the state and society, the nation and the family, and the living and the dead. Moreover, seeking answers to how and why institutions and individuals of twentieth-century China constructed posthumous identities to deal with unprecedented level of deaths, my research advances original knowledge by addressing our humanistic desire to reconcile with the afterlife or the lack thereof.

Research Interests: 
China, Southeast Asia, War, World History, Revolution, Comparative History, Collective Action, Law & Society, Legal History, Women’s History
Graduate Position: 
PhD Candidate