Hai Nguyen

Unseen Legacies of the Vietnam War Project
Global Vietnam Wars Studies Initiative

Headshot of Hai Nguyen

Hai Nguyen is the co-founder and director of the Global Vietnam Wars Studies Initiative and the Unseen Legacies of the Vietnam War Project at the Harvard Kennedy School. Born in the land of Dai Uyen, Quang Binh, Vietnam, Nguyen is a scholar, oral historian, non-fiction writer, journalist, and filmmaker.

Specializing in military and sociopolitical history, comparative culture, and religion, as well as oral history and memory, Nguyen has dedicated his career to exploring untold histories and global legacies of the Vietnam Wars, delving into U.S.-Southeast Asia relations during and after the Cold War. He remains the only scholar to accomplish uncensored oral history interviews from all parties involved, including rare perspectives often absent from historical discourse.

Nguyen’s works are distinguished by using hidden memories, unexplored narratives, and unpublished documents as new histories to develop groundbreaking scholarship on the multipartite wars in Indochina. His approach advances a broader understanding of Southeast Asia studies, representing various disciplines and multidimensional lenses—local, regional, global, historic, and contemporary.  He has been leading research projects on the Vietnam Wars funded by the First Infantry Division Museum, Luce Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Defense. Nguyen’s ongoing programs at Harvard enable a world-class academic platform in digital humanities for teaching and studying while fostering intellectual, cultural, and reconciliatory efforts between the U.S. and Indo-Pacific nations. His contributions have been featured in publications such as the three-volume Cambridge History of the Vietnam War and The New York Times, as well as in documentary films.

Prior to coming Harvard, he studied military, religion, culture, and migration in European and Asian countries, including France, Netherlands, Germany, Tibet, Xinjiang, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Nguyen earned his Ph.D. in History at Texas Tech University and has been regarded as a fellow of the Broadcasting Journalism in the Netherlands, the U.S. State Department’s International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, the Poynter Fellow Program at Yale University, the Hong Kong Baptist International Writers, and the Grand Division Scholar of the U.S. State Department at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences, University of Massachusetts Boston.