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Business practices in Phnom Penh from 1990 to the present day: changing identities and ethos within spaces of sociability

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Abstract : 

Exploring the history of businessmen since the 1990s, this talk considers  the formation of a social group, businessmen, and their practices in Phnom Penh in a specific historical context.

At the crossroads of political and economic history, business history and the sociology of elites, the talk focuses on businessmen as a social group of rational individuals, rooted in specific institutions, interacting with the social, political and economic space that surrounds them. It is in line with questions relating to the practice of business in Cambodia, and more specifically among the Sino-Khmer, the Chinese of Southeast Asia as a whole and the Chinese of the PRC.

The methodology envisaged consists in analyzing the functioning of business sociability spaces in Phnom Penh, while seeking to understand the role of community and family networks in the functioning of business circles. Drawing on a series of field surveys of businessmen’s socialization structures, such as clubs and associations, it describes how these spaces enable them to meet, mobilize, constitute themselves as a social group and, where appropriate, pursue common goals and interests. It should thus be possible to describe the evolution of their members’ identity positioning, their practices and their interactions with the social space in general. By considering these institutions of sociability as spaces that influence the lives of individuals, this work will question the hypothesis of the construction of a “referential” of the Phnom Penh business community around common practices.

Bio : 

Speaker: Hector Pécheur was a CKS dissertation research fellow in 2022. Arriving in Cambodia in 2018, he quickly became fascinated by issues relating to the business world in Phnom Penh. Having completed a Master’s degree at EHESS on the sociability of businessmen in the United States in the 1920s, questions around networks, identity and business practices are at the heart of his research interests. As a doctoral student at INALCO since 2021, he is working on a doctoral thesis in history on business practices in Phnom Penh since the 1990s, in parallel with his professional teaching activities.

Moderator: Dr. Steve Heder, London School of Oriental and African Studies. Dr. Steve Heder has studied, worked in or taught about Southeast Asia and China since the early 1970s. He holds a PhD in Politics and has worked for the United Nations and various human rights organizations. He is currently a Research Associate at the Department of Politics and International Studies at the London School of Oriental and African Studies and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Foreign Policy Institute. His particular research interests have included democracy, revolution, genocide and human rights.

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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