Re-Evaluating Vietnam’s Nghe-Tinh Soviets (1930-1931) using a Historical GIS: Some Preliminary Observations

Publication Date

October 2011


The Nghe-Tinh Soviets of 1930-1931, a rebellion against colonial authority in north-central and central colonial Vietnam, has received extensive analysis by a variety of commentators and scholars, both Vietnamese and not. Most scholars, Vietnam and internationally, settled on some view of immiseration combined with the presence of pro-communist organizers as the motive forces for the rebellion, but a few have favored questions of political dissatisfaction and local empowerment as underlying motivations for revolt. Until recently, examining the rebellion on a gross scale in order to test either theory has proven difficult, with a surfeit of information but no easy way to process it in order to underwrite large-scale analyses. Del Testa is using a historical GIS (geographical information system) analysis, which blends statistics with digitized maps, in order to display correlations between factors, such as wealth, religion, and so on of those who rebelled in order to reexamine the Nghe-Tinh Soviets movement on a grand scale. His presentation will illustrate some initial findings as well as the techniques used.