War, Genocide, and Justice
Cambodian American Memory Work
Publication Year: 2012
In the three years, eight months, and twenty days of the Khmer Rouge’s deadly reign over Cambodia, an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians perished as a result of forced labor, execution, starvation, and disease. Despite the passage of more than thirty years, two regime shifts, and a contested U.N. intervention, only one former Khmer Rouge official has been successfully tried and sentenced for crimes against humanity in an international court of law to date. It is against this background of war, genocide, and denied justice that Cathy J. Schlund-Vials explores the work of 1.5-generation Cambodian American artists and writers.
Drawing on what James Young labels “memory work”—the collected articulation of large-scale human loss—War, Genocide, and Justice investigates the remembrance work of Cambodian American cultural producers through film, memoir, and music. Schlund-Vials includes interviews with artists such as Anida Yoeu Ali, praCh Ly, Sambath Hy, and Socheata Poeuv. Alongside the enduring legacy of the Killing Fields and post-9/11 deportations of Cambodian American youth, artists potently reimagine alternative sites for memorialization, reclamation, and justice. Traversing borders, these artists generate forms of genocidal remembrance that combat amnesic politics and revise citizenship practices in the United States and Cambodia.
Engaged in politicized acts of resistance, individually produced and communally consumed, Cambodian American memory work represents a significant and previously unexamined site of Asian American critique.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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Introduction: Battling the “Cambodian Syndrome”
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The wheel of history is inexorably turning: he who cannot keep pace Thank you very much for your letter of June 14. I’m sorry to be so late in answering but for some reason your letter has just only reached my desk. I’m happy you have found friends and freedom here in our land. I hope with all my heart that your homeland will one day be ...
Chapter 1: Atrocity Tourism: Politicized Remembrance and Reparative Memorialization
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Set incongruously in a lovely residential neighborhood, the genocide museum brings you up short almost immediately with a sign warning that any loud talking or laughter is strictly forbidden. That warning seems all but superfluous as you enter the first-floor galleries and see walls covered with black-and-white face shots of the Khmer Rouge’s ...
Chapter 2: Screening Apology: Cinematic Culpability in The Killing Fields and New Year Baby
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With trepidation, I ask the question that has been churning inside me since that distant April in 1975: “Can you forgive me for not being able to keep you safe in the French Embassy, for leaving Cambodia without you?” “No, no,” he says, gripping my hand hard. “It’s not like The work of healing a country really happens inside each Cambodian. ...
Chapter 3: Growing Up under the Khmer Rouge: Cambodian American Life Writing
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The Angkar is the mother and father of all young children, as well as As a survivor, I want to be worthy of the suffering that I endured as a child. I don’t want to let that pain count for nothing, nor do I want In.a J.aun.ae 2000, a quarter century af_ter the Khmer Rouge takeover of Phnom Penh, the New York Times published a review of two Cambodian American memoirs: Loung Ung’s First They Killed My Father: ...
Chapter 4: Lost Chapters and Invisible Wars: Hip-Hop and Cambodian American Critique
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...from. He opened up, talking about the Khmer Rouge. He talked about being in camp, where he had to sneak out to get food knowing that if he would have been caught, it was an automatic death sentence. Something changed. I mean, I heard about this stuff before, but my parents never talked about it. . . . I’m sure every time they mention ...
Epilogue: Remembering the Forgetting
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If.a, a.as.a L.ai.as.aa.a Y.aon.aey.aa.ama.a ma.ai.an.at.aa.ai.an.as.a, the “process of remembering . . . necessarily entails the forgetting of the forgetfulness,” then Anida Yoeu Ali’s “Visiting Loss” (2005) poetically encompasses a contested matrix of disremembered histories, Khmer Rouge politics, refugee memory, and unstable citizenships.one.w A “Cambodian American Muslim transnational,” Ali is a Chicago-based 1.5-generation poet/performer/visual artist who ...
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Un.ad.aen.ai.aa.ab.al.ay.a, War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work owes an enormous debt to the Cambodian American artists, writers, and activists whose commitment to human rights, geno-cide remembrance, and social justice—notwithstanding the passage of more than three decades af_ter the 1979 dissolution of the Khmer Rouge regime—served as this book’s primary impetus. In many ways a labor ...
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About the Author
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...and Asian American studies and director of the Asian American Studies Institute at the University of Connecticut. She is author of Modeling ...
Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2012