Who Built the Long Wall of Quang Ngai? Territory, Security and Trade along a Vietnamese Boundary

Dr Andrew Hardy, historian of Vietnam, associate professor at the French School of Asian Studies

Co-presented with the School of Languages and Cultures and the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre at the University of Sydney

8 March

At first glance, there seemed no question about it. In 1819, the Long Wall of Quang Ngai was built on the orders of the Vietnamese court to ‘pacify the barbarians’ to the west. So thought historian Andrew Hardy and his colleague, archaeologist Nguyen Tien Dong (Vietnam Institute of Archaeology) in 2001, after reading the 19th century records that informed them of the wall’s existence. But in 2005, when they started their survey, they discovered that the 127 km of stone and earth wall that, to the present day, separates the Vietnamese in the plains from the Hre ethnic minority in the hills was raised using the labour and technology of both communities.

This, they realised, was not a narrative of barriers built against ‘barbarian’ peoples, but of a mechanism negotiated between neighbours to provide security for inter-zone trade. In this lecture Andrew Hardy will describe the multi-disciplinary research that, in 2005-2012, led to this conclusion, and discuss some of the Long Wall’s implications for our understanding of boundaries, territory and inter-communal relations.

Dr Andrew Hardy

Andrew Hardy, historian of Vietnam, recently stepped down as head of the French School of Asian Studies (EFEO) centre in Hanoi. His ten years in Vietnam allowed him to develop interests in Vietnamese migration and ethnic relations that emerged from his education in Cambridge and Paris and were pursued in his PhD thesis at the ANU (published as Red Hills: Migrants and the State in the Highlands of Vietnam, 2003). After post-doctoral study at Singapore’s National University (1999-2002), his focus turned to the Vietnamese southward expansion. In 2005, this led him to study the Long Wall of Quang Ngai province (designated Vietnamese national heritage in 2011). The Long Wall raises questions about relations between the Viet and the Hrê ethnic minority, and between Vietnam and Champa. Andrew is now based at EFEO in Paris, teaching at the Sorbonne and writing up this research.