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Sok Udom DETH : Historical Narratives and Nationalist Discourses in Cambodia’s Modern History and Contemporary Politics


A successor to the powerful Khmer Empire that once dominated much of mainland Southeast Asia, the modern state of Cambodia became seriously weakened during the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries as a vassal of either Thailand or Vietnam, or both. After gaining independence from French rule in 1953, Cambodia enjoyed a brief period of stability and prosperity until the country plunged into a long period of civil wars under a number of successive and antagonistic regimes during the Cold War era. Besides domestic infighting, each of these Cambodian regimes also engaged in nationalist propaganda, and selective memory of national histories, to bolster their own domestic legitimacy. This lecture traces the different versions of historical narratives and selective histories as portrayed during the Cold War under Sangkum Reastr Niyum (1955– 1970), Khmer Republic (1970–1975), Democratic Kampuchea (1975–1979), and People’s Republic of Kampuchea (1979–1989). It then discusses how such historical narratives and selective memories are being used by the two competing political parties in contemporary Cambodia, namely the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and the opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, to advance their respective domestic power bases, as well as the its implications on the future of Cambodian politics.

Friday, 11 July 2014
Time: 16 Uhr ct
Place: Room 222
Universität Hamburg
Asien-Afrika-Institut
ESA-Ostflügel
Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1
20146 Hamburg