Shawn McHale

Faculty Headshot of Shawn McHale

Shawn McHale


Southeast Asia


Email: Shawn McHale
Office Phone: (202) 994-2760
Columbian College of Arts & Sciences 801 22nd Street, NW, Room 305 Washington DC 20052

Shawn McHale focuses on the comparative study of colonialism, violence, and modern Southeast Asian history, with a particular interest in Vietnam. His latest book is The First Vietnam War: Violence, Sovereignty, and the Fracture of the South, 1945-56 (Cambridge University Press, 2021), a deeply researched study of the violent end of French colonialism in southern Vietnam.   He has also written on the rise of a Vietnamese print culture, 1920-1945. He is currently researching and writing a book on Vietnamese engagements with Theravada Buddhism, 1930-1990. He is the recipient of Fulbright-Hays and ACLS/ Robert H.N. Ho fellowships.

Complete C.V. (PDF)

  • Southeast Asia
  • Vietnam
  • Imperialism and Colonialism
  • Vietnamese Buddhism
  • Violence

HIST 2005W: History, Trauma, Memory

HIST 3640: Modern Southeast Asian History

HIST 3001: Vietnam: From Colonialism to War

HIST 6641: Modern Southeast Asia

HIST 6005: Seminar: History and Historians

HIST 6602: Asia: History, Memory, and Violence

The First Vietnam War: Violence, Sovereignty, and the Fracture of the South, 1945-56 (Cambridge University Press, 2021).

Podcast on The First Vietnam War: Nerw Books Network, December 1,2021 (

“Ethnicity, Violence, and Khmer-Vietnamese Relations: The Significance of the Lower Mekong Delta, 1757-1954,” Journal of Asian Studies 72,2 (MAY 2013): pp. 367-390.

“Understanding the Fanatic Mind? The Viet Minh and Race Hatred in the First Indochina War (1945-1954),” Journal of Vietnamese Studies (October 2009): 98-138.

"Vietnamese Print Culture under French Colonial Rule: The Emergence of a Public Sphere." In Books in Numbers, ed. Wilt Idema, 377-415. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2007.

Print and Power: Confucianism, Buddhism, and Communism in the Making of Modern Vietnam, 1920-1945. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.

"Mapping a 'Confucian' Past: Vietnam and the Transition to Modernity." In Rethinking Confucianism: Past and Present in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, ed. Benjamin Elman, Hermann Ooms, and John Duncan, 397-430. Los Angeles: UCLA Asia Pacific Monograph Series, 2002.

"Vietnamese Marxism, Dissent, and the Politics of Postcolonial Memory: Tran Duc Thao, 1946-1993." Journal of Asian Studies 61, no. 1 (February 2002): 7-37.

Ph.D., Cornell University, 1995