Viet Trinh photo

Viet Trinh, Ph.D.

Visiting assistant professor of history ; Visiting assistant professor of African and African American studies

Email:[email protected]

Location: Landrum Bolling Center
Room 323
801 National Road
Richmond, Indiana 47374

About me

My manuscript-in-progress, tentatively titled Burning All Illusions: Race and Rebellion in the City of Angels, 1950-1992, traces Black and Korean Angelenos’ fights for justice and citizenship in an age of law-and-order policing. From the early Cold War to the Rodney King Riots, Southern California’s diverse communities had to navigate, resist, and reckon with a rising carceral state responsible for cruel, abusive policing in their neighborhoods. Over time, many rejected the government’s draconian, heavy-handed solutions to social problems. Instead, they advanced a more democratic, more multi-faceted conception of public safety rooted in neighborhood diplomacy and a revitalized civic infrastructure.

Built upon years of research conducted across California, this manuscript reflects my firm commitment to excavating phenomena otherwise buried in the historical record by listening through archival silences and reconsidering subjugated knowledges. It centers not only well-known policymakers, police chiefs, and political dissidents, but also gangsters, grocers, and everyday people entangled with the law. A bottom-up history, Burning All Illusions positions these marginalized people at the forefront of our conversations on race, urban policy, and the modern carceral state.

Set in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, my other ongoing project—tentatively titled Into the Belly of the Beast: Researchers, Radicals, and Refugees in Cold War California—investigates the intersections between the Silicon Valley military-industrial complex, the rise of African American and Asian American opposition to the Viet Nam-U.S. War, and the eventual influx of Southeast Asian refugees to Northern California. Using a combination of archival research and oral history, the project details the region’s transformation from a Cold War defense hub into a mecca of anti-war protest and a harbor for imperial subjects migrating to the metropole. In doing so, it weighs the numerous paradoxes and ironies of U.S. imperialism while anchoring its analysis in the particularities of a specific place.

Before moving to Indiana for Earlham College, I taught at myriad other institutions, including Lafayette College, Southern Connecticut State University, and Yale University. I proudly hail from the Bay Area, where multi-racial coalitions of radical student-activists established the country’s first critical ethnic studies programs.


  • PhD, History, Yale University
  • MPhil, History, Yale University
  • MA, History, Yale University
  • BA, History, University of California, Riverside

Scholarly interest

Race and empire, urban studies, carceral studies, African American history, Asian American history, twentieth-century United States history