Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books on Cambodia's Politcal and Social History

Here are five books on cambodia that present varied perspectives of its political and social history:

  • Khmer Women On The Move: Exploring Work And Life In Urban Cambodia by Annuska Derks. This ethnographic account of Cambodian women who migrate to urban areas within the country is based on 2000-2001 case studies and substantial post-1995 experience with local social problems and development. The situations, aims, experience and problems of women as migrants to the country's industrial enterprises, as service providers and in the sex trade are explored. Very varied patterns of experience and motivating factors are shown and discussed. Some 20 case vignettes illuminate the scene and the social, labour, and dependency factors which affect so much of Cambodia's life and development.
  • At The Edge Of The Forest: Essays On Cambodia, History, And Narrative In Honor Of David Chandler. Edited by Anne Ruth Hansen and Judy Ledgerwood. These 14 essays are written by or in honour of the innovative Cambodia scholar, David Chandler (b. 1933), who since the early 1960s has been exploring aspects of Cambodia's pre-Colonial history. The papers offer alternative readings of pre-1863 events and culture. Mystical/religious/legendary perceptions are explored and discussed. The significance of these poetic/narrative elements in Cambodia's fraught past and recent history are also raised.
  • People Of Virtue: Reconfiguring Religion, Power And Moral Order In Cambodia Today. Edited by Alexandra Kent and David Chandler. These 16 separately referenced papers were given at the 2005 conference at Varberg Sweden in association with the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, amongst others. Specialists with sociological, Buddhist or other experience in present-day Cambodia focus on recent developments in the trauma-torn country and the place and potential of Buddhism within it. The papers are grouped as historical, including he Colonial backdrop; the desired ideals of different groups; aims, problems and achievements in remaking a moral world; and changing cultures with regard to Buddhist education, politics, corruption and authority.
  • Where The Stone Flowers: The People Of Angkor by Thanakvaro De Lopez. The author is a Cambodian Portuguese Eurasian trained overseas who works with the Cambodian Research Centre for Development. He presents in this unusual volume facts, photographers, legends, beliefs and perceptions of the contemporary people of Angkor. The ruminative approach and sensitive photography enable many insights into the blending of age-old ways, suffering and survival strengths which form today's Cambodian blooms from stone.
  • Dancing In Shadows: Sihanouk, The Khmer Rouge, And The United Nations In Cambodia by Benny Widyono. Benny Widyono, a career UN official from Indonesia, writes about his experiences of being caught up in the turmoil of international and domestic politics swirling around Cambodia during the tumultuous period after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. He recreates the fierce battles for power centering on King Norodom Sihanouk, the Khmer Rouge, and Prime Minister Hun Sen. A simultaneous insider and outsider, he also untangles the competing and conflicting agendas of the key international players, especially the United States, China, and Vietnam. He argues that great-power geopolitics throughout the cold war and post-cold war eras triggered and sustained a tragedy of enormous proportions in Cambodia for decades, ultimately leading to a flawed peace process.

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