Seeing Agent Orange in the United States and Vietnam: A Quilt of Tears

Vietnam. Defoliation Mission. A UH-1D helicopter from the 336th Aviation Company sprays a defoliation agent on agricultural land in the Mekong delta

Vietnam. Defoliation Mission. A UH-1D helicopter from the 336th Aviation Company sprays a defoliation agent on agricultural land in the Mekong delta

Principal Investigator: Leslie Reagan, Professor of History and Gender & Women's Studies

Grant Program: Summer Stipends

Year: 2015

"Seeing Agent Orange in the United States and Vietnam will explain how and why Agent Orange—nearly fifty years after its use in Vietnam— remains a subject of intense interest that continues to mobilize American and transnational movements for legal change, health care, justice, and peace—and has even become a matter of international diplomacy. Seeing Agent Orange analyzes politics and public policy alongside the intimate experiences of both American and Vietnamese veterans, civilians, and their children with disabilities. Indeed, the politics and policies surrounding Agent Orange cannot be grasped without understanding some of the most personal reproductive events and experiences of men and women touched by Agent Orange, for it was miscarriages, stillbirths, unexpectedly disabled children, stigma, and the lack of services for children with disabilities that drove protests and resulted in new legislation. 

"My book investigates how exposed populations have understood Agent Orange’s effects, and the ways in which people have made their own and their families’ health conditions public; how and why Agent Orange has been the impetus for protest and art; and how it is now being represented, remembered, and made into history in documentary films, at museums, and memorials. The NEH supported research and writing about the production of memorials, including the traveling exhibition of the 'Agent Orange Quilt of Tears,' by veterans and their widows and wives."

Leslie Reagan

Read Professor Reagan's related article, "Representations and Reproductive Hazards of Agent Orange," in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 39:1 (Spring 2011): 54-61.

The Past Five Years