"Where is the Legacy of the Six Million? Bearing Witness to the Insurgent Planning of Vietnam Veterans Against the War."

Metsch-Ampel, Dylan, Urban and Environmental Planning - School of Architecture, University of Virginia
LAWRENCE, JENNIFER, Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia
Roberts, Andrea, Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia

In 1969, Peter Stool returned home to New Jersey after serving in the United States military in Vietnam. By 1975 he was dead from Agent Orange induced esophageal cancer. He spent the few years he had in between returning home and dying working at the post office, writing, and organizing as a peace activist in the veteran-led anti-war movement. This project is influenced and motivated by Peter’s activism, essays, poetry, and diary. By interrogating and bearing witness to Peter’s experiences, I unveil a broader story about the ways in which veteran-led anti-war movements, specifically Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), enact insurgent planning. I also unveil how the Vietnam War fits within America’s domestic and global modernist planning ambitions. I establish the Vietnam War, including the use of herbicides during Operation Ranch Hand, as a high-modernist planning project that culminated from the evolution of centuries of Eurocentric conceptions about property, land ownership, and peoples’ relationship to land. The modernist, or official narrative of planning, masks this reality. Relying on participant interviews, I establish the veteran-led anti-war movement as an insurgent planning movement that negated assumptions about the Vietnam War and imagined and worked to enact a more just world. Understanding VVAW from this perspective offers a counternarrative to the modernist planning narrative of the Vietnam War. In bearing witness to Peter and his comrades, I make a call to action: planners and the planning discipline can learn from VVAW and infuse their work and the field with insurgent practice. I offer an alternate vision of what planning can be and how we can orient our work to create more just, equitable, and sustainable communities.

MUEP (Master of Urban and Environmental Planning)
Environmental Planning, Insurgent Planning, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Social Movements, Bearing Witness, Judaism, Agent Orange
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