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From Rice Cultivation Rituals to Cultural Identity: Practice and Value of the Khmer Rice Field

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Most research on Angkor Civilization has focused on history and archaeology. Few studies on village life have been carried out so far. Youk’s research goal is to understand the relationship between continuity and change in rice cultivation in the Angkor Archaeological Park. He undertook ethnographic research at Bangkaong village, Ampil commune, Prasat Bakong District, Siem Reap province for eleven months. This village is located about fifteen kilometers east of downtown Siem Reap and in the protection zone of the National APSARA Authority. The villagers use rice as an essential element to distinguish between the social categories of those who are rice farmers and those who are city dwellers. Furthermore, the village is located close to the city center, but this proximity to the city does not prevent people from thinking of themselves as true villagers (anak srae). The villagers consider rice cultivation to be an important dimension of who they are. In Youk’s presentation, he will discuss the influence of rice cultivation on the social organization of the people in this region. While in the past the rice cycle was the backbone of village life, does it still have this role today?


Speaker: Sopheak YOUK is a Cambodian PhD Dissertation Research Fellow and Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris, France. He received his Bachelor of Archaeology from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh in 2013 and a Bachelor in Language, Culture and Society, Southeast Asia, from INALCO in 2014. He graduated with a Master’s degree in Social Sciences, Arts, Literature and Language from INALCO in 2017. His current research topic is “From Rice Cultivation Rituals to Cultural Identity: Practice and Value of the Khmer Rice Field”. His research aims to understand how the enormous importance that Cambodia has always placed on rice culture is currently evolving.

Moderator: Professor Magnus Fiskesjö is originally from Sweden. He has long been fascinated with Cambodia and its history but he visited for the first time only in 2012. He received his education in Sweden, Denmark, China, and the US, where he completed his doctoral studies in Anthropology and Asian Studies at the University of Chicago. His doctoral work focused on the history and political anthropology of the Wa people of Myanmar and China. Before his PhD, he worked in Sweden’s foreign service and was stationed in Beijing and Tokyo. Later he served as the Director of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, in Stockholm, Sweden, one of Europe’s foremost museums with Asian art and archaeology. During this period, he began to take an active interest in the politics of heritage and the issue of repatriations from Western museum collections.

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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