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Building and Maintaining a Social Space in Exile: An example of a Cambodian community abroad. Notes on a visual anthropology of memory

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Abstract :

This presentation will discuss the preliminary findings from an ongoing multi-sited ethnographic research between France and Cambodia as part of a doctorate dissertation. The research project aims to understand the logics of constructing and maintaining  a transnational social space, on the one hand through participant observation in a Cambodian pagoda in France and, on the other, through the study of the circulation of people – notably Buddhist monks – between the two countries, as well as images via social networks. What role do these various forms of circulation play in the transmission of knowledge and narratives, in maintaining links between Cambodian communities abroad and Cambodia, in perpetuating values and renewing social categories? What place do the stories of the past occupy for different generations?  How are questions of remembrance addressed in France and Cambodia, both publicly and privately? 

The project includes the making of an ethnographic film. The film in the making will reflect on representations of memory, the limits of seeing, traces and evidence. It attempts to detect traces of violence in the landscape; questioning the place and status of the witness; the ways in which testimony is told; the categories of victim and perpetrator; as well as the processes of healing and recovering from trauma and exile.

Bio : 

Speaker: Noemi Didu is a Ph.D candidate in visual anthropology at the University of Aix-Marseille (France) under the supervision of Laurent Van Lancker (University of Aix-Marseille) and Anne Yvonne Guillou (University of Paris-Nanterre). Her research lies at the crossroads of social anthropology, visual anthropology and historical anthropology. Noemi Didu holds a bachelor’s degree in art history, with a specialization in cinema and photography, and a master’s degree in visual anthropology. She works with emic images, archival footage and images she shoots herself in the field. Audiovisual methods are an integral part of her fieldwork, and her doctoral dissertation consists of a paper and a film.

Moderator: Prof. John Marston, from the Center for Asian and African Studies of El Colegio de México in Mexico City, is the scholar-in-residence at CKS during the second half of 2023. His association with CKS dates back many years. Previously, he received CKS research funding through our Fellowship programs and coordinated a CKS capacity-building project. Marston’s publications include History, Buddhism, and New Religious Movements in Cambodia (with Elizabeth Guthrie); Anthropology and Community in Cambodia; and Ethnicity, Borders, and the Grassroots Interface with the State. His articles have appeared in multiple scholarly journals and in edited volumes published by Cornell University Press, University of Hawaii Press, Edinburgh University Press, Palgrave, El Colegio de México, and Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the publications and through webinars are solely those of the authors or speakers. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. The designations employed in the publications and through the webinars, and the presentation of material therein, do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. as to the matters discussed therein. The responsibility for opinions expressed in the publications and webinars are solely those of the authors or speakers, and the publication does not constitute an endorsement by The Center for Khmer Studies, Inc. of the opinions, views or issues discussed therein.

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