Gerald Cannon Hickey

Portrait of Gerald Cannon  Hickey

Gerald Cannon Hickey (17 Dec. 1925- 10 Nov. 2010, Chicago, IL, USA) was an anthropologist who worked in Southeast Asia, primarily Vietnam. From 1956 through 1973, he conducted ethnographic research in Vietnam; during the 1960s his research was sponsored by the RAND Corporation. He built ties with many of the tribes of South Vietnam and wrote several books (including A Village in Vietnam (Yale University Press, 1964), Free in the Forest, Sons of the Mountains, Shattered World) on the people living in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

The presentation of his Window on a War: An Anthropologist in the Vietnam Conflict (Texas Tech University, 2002) states that "when Gerald Hickey went to Vietnam in 1956 to complete his Ph.D. in anthropology, he didn't realize he would be there for most of the next eighteen years - through the entire Vietnam War. After working with the country folk of the Mekong Delta for several years, in 1963 Hickey was recruited by the RAND Corporation, which was contracted by the U.S. government to study and report on the highland tribes. He lived through the Viet Cong night attack on the Nam Dong Special Forces Camp in July 1964, and he survived the full-scale battle at Ban Me Thuot during Tet, 1968. Worst, he witnessed the decline of the mountain people from proud highlanders to refugees from a war none of them wanted and few understood."

A collection of 16 Hickey's photographs of Montagnard people in Vietnam (1960-9), mostly Jarai, Jeh and Stieng, is kept at The Smithsonian Institution (NAA.PhotoLot.73-34).