180 - Who are the Vietnamese? Nam C. Kim - Anthropological Archaeologist


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Nam C. Kim is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the current Director of UW-Madison’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. He holds degrees in anthropology (PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago), political science (MA, New York University) and international relations (BA, University of Pennsylvania).

As an anthropological archaeologist, he has conducted research in various countries. His research deals with early civilizations and the significance of the material past for modern-day stakeholders. He is especially interested in the history of warfare. Since 2005 he has been conducting fieldwork in Vietnam at the Co Loa settlement. A heavily fortified site located near modern-day Hanoi, Co Loa is connected to Vietnamese legendary accounts and is viewed as an ancient political capital.

Nam’s work has been featured in various podcast interviews and a documentary (on the History Hit website). He has also authored several articles and books. The Origins of Ancient Vietnam (2015) provides a glimpse into the foundations of Vietnamese civilization, as seen through the archaeological record. Emergent Warfare in Our Evolutionary Past (2018, co-authored with Marc Kissel) provides a comprehensive view on the origins of war within the history of humanity. It explores questions about how far back in time we can see warfare, and whether or not organized violence is somehow innate within our species.

Nam was born in Saigon in 1974 to a Korean father and Vietnamese mother. On April 29, 1975, his parents made a desperate decision to flee from a toppling city and crumbling country. They evacuated by helicopter from the rooftop of the USAID building in downtown Saigon, bearing their infant son out of chaos.

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