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Public Presentations: Junior Resident Fellows Program 2022

Day 1: August 11, 2022 from 2:00-6:00 PM

1. Between Research and Exotism: Analysis of Colonial Archeology in Angkor by Milan Garcia

Abstract: Angkor temples are a worldwide symbol of Cambodia’s past and identity. Since the so-called “rediscovery” of these temples by European explorers and travelers in the 19th century, this archeological site has faced many transformations. During the French protectorate period (1863-1953), many Western scholars contributed to expanding the historical knowledge of the Khmer empire, thus constructing a national historical timeline in Cambodia. However, these archeological studies were mainly conducted to glorify and legitimize the French colonial power, and led to many historiographical myths. This research aims to retrace the work of French colonial scholars in Angkor, including the exploration of the archeological site, the restoration work on the temples and the reception of Khmer art in Europe.

Bio: Milan Garcia is an undergraduate student at the École du Louvre in Paris. He studies History of Art and Archeology, focusing on India and Indianized countries, as well as on the Islamic world. He has long been deeply interested in Cambodia’s culture and history, especially concerning the Khmer medieval monuments of pre-angkorian and angkorian eras.


2. Cambodians under Surveillance by the French Authorities from 1946 to 1953 by Julia Goujon

Abstract: This project aims to show the elements for a prosopography of the elites under King Sihanouk’s reign. The sources have been identified at the Archives nationales d’Outre-Mer (ANOM) and the National Archives of Cambodia. This historiographical field, which was opened up in Cambodia by Jacques Népote, and later by Nasir Abdoul-Carime and Marie Aberdam, is still under-examined. It is a question of reconstructing the networks of the elites through the French surveillance files (SLOTFOM XV). All of this is based on a colonial administrative logic which highlights the individual and on anthropological community characteristics linked to the political history of the kingdom: families, houses, territories, factious and palatial groupings.

Bio: Julia Goujon comes from the French-Cambodian diaspora. She graduated from the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne with a Bachelor’s degree in history. She was subsequently introduced to contemporary European history and wanted to deepen her knowledge of Khmer and the history of contemporary Cambodia. She will start a Master’s degree in Asian studies at the EHESS (École des hautes études en sciences sociales) and a Bachelor’s degree in Khmer at the INALCO (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales) in Paris. She is interested in the notions of networks, surveillance and elites during the colonial period.

3. Khmer Shadow Theatre : Forms and Challenges of Revitalization by Mathilde France

Abstract: Inscribed in 2008 on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, shadow theatre in Cambodia takes three forms: Sbek Thom, Sbek Touch and Sbek Poa. After the fall of Angkor in the fifteenth century, shadow theatre emerged from the ritual setting to become an artistic form, without losing its ceremonial dimension. This research project proposes a panel of historical and historiographic knowledge on the subject, as well as an iconographic analysis linking the transformed epic of the Reamker, from the Ra̅ma̅yaṇa. It also explores the current situation of this practice, marked by the Khmer Rouge and more recently by the global pandemic. What is the symbolism of shadow theatre? How does it survive? What are the future stakes, both social and museographical? And more prosaic, how are puppets made?

Bio: Mathilde France studies art history, archaeology and museology at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris. She specializes in the arts of Byzantium, India, and South Asiancountries of Asia. Starting in September 2021, she began pursuing a research project on shadow theatre in Cambodia and the formal Khmer adaptation of Ra̅ma̅yaṇa. After graduating, she plans to pursue a Master’s degree in archaeology at the Sorbonne.


4. The Different Terms of Kinship and Address in Siem Reap by Youmeï Sim

Abstract: In Asia, kinship terms may be more common than the use of first names as in the West. This research aims to identify kinship terms and addresses used in Siem Reap as well as their intentions between interlocutors. During this program I have gathered as much vocabulary as possible used for biological and classificatory kinship. I have come to understand why and how those terms are essential in everyday life.

Bio: Youmeï Sim is a 21-year-old Cambodian, born and raised in France. She recently graduated from INALCO (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales) with a bilingual degree in Foreign and Regional Languages, and Literatures and Civilizations of the Asia Pacific, with a specialization in Khmer and a minor in Thai. She then developed her interest in language sciences, particularly linguistics.




5. Khmer classical dance: where does this heritage lie today? From Institutional Initiatives to Contemporary Creations, Analysis of Several Types of Preservation by Phonnica Narom and Zoé Meyer

Abstract: Since the first introduction of classical Khmer dances in Europe at the 1906 colonial exhibition in Marseille, the notion of authenticity has been a major focus of understanding this dance form. Many people who may not be familiar with this dancing heritage think that it has remained unchanged since the Angkorian period. However, Khmer court dances have always adapted to new audiences, new scenes, and therefore have constantly been evolving through creativity. This form of creativity allows us to venture into its capacity to mix elements of classical Khmer arts with contemporary trends and influences. This legacy now lives on through several institutions’ initiatives (such as the Cambodian Living Art’s demonstrations and exhibitions) and it also feeds the research and creation of today’s artists.

Bio: Phonnica Narom studies Public Health at Temple University. Their academic interests rely around health and its accessibility, specifically regarding the Khmer and Southeast Asian community. They are also part of a Classical Khmer Dance Troupe, furthering their hopes of exploring the history, spirituality, and contemporary shifts within the dance movement.


Bio: Zoé Meyer studied Art History at the Ecole du Louvre in Paris and specialized in Architecture, décor and furniture. She was also a student at University Paris-Saclay where she took courses in heritage law and copyright. For her master degree, she chose to focus on museology and she graduated in 2022 from the University of Montreal. She was a dancer student in ballet, contemporary dance, and baroque dance for 15 years and she also pursues her passion by conducting research on the inclusion of dance in museums.






Day 2: August 12, 2022 from 8:30-11:30 PM

1. Chbab Srey and Young Cambodians in 2022 by Sovansere Phoeung

Abstract: Chbab Srey is rooted in Cambodia and has been a part of Cambodian family life and Cambodian society for a long time. As a woman and a student who has learnt Chbab Srey since a young age, Sovansere is very passionate and curious to conduct research to find out how other people view Chbab Srey and the influence of Chbab Srey on contemporary Cambodian society. Under the topic of “Chbab Srey and Young Cambodians in 2022”, there are two key questions that will be addressed. The first key question is: what do young Cambodians think about Chbab Srey in general? The second key question is: what do they think about the influence of Chbab Srey on Cambodian society and the stereotypical roles of Cambodian women and men? Around 50 young people from different backgrounds, different fields and different ways of thinking in Cambodia were interviewed for this project.

Bio: Sovansere Phoeung is a fourth-year student majoring in Global Affairs at the American University of Phnom Penh. She decided to join this fellowship program in the hope of learning more about contemporary Cambodian society, meeting new people, and conducting research on her topic of interest on Chbab Srey.


2. The Unwritten Rules by Sopharoth Ith

Abstract: This presentation will focus on Sopharoth’s findings regarding unwritten rules in Cambodian society that impact women and women’s abilities to pursue their potential. While Cambodians have heard of Chbab Srey (Law of Women), many Cambodians do not learn the content of the law in detail. However, unwritten rules such as different expectations, perceptions, and restrictions of women’s rights persist through family practices, teachings, and peer influences. Sopharoth’s research has focused on how such restrictions and practices have impacted young women’s opportunities to pursue higher education. Sopharoth interviewed ten female university students to gain perspective on the rules they grew up with and how the rules have altered their decisions and opportunities to pursue university-level education. The presentation will summarize women’s past resistance to society’s expectations and their movements to empower themselves, the interviews with ten university students, reflections from Sopharoth’s own journey pursuing higher education, and highlighted suggestions and messages both from women of the past and the present. Read Sopharoth’s blog on her research findings on the CKS website.

Bio: Sopharoth Ith is a recent graduate from the University of Portland and she is starting her master program at Stanford University. Supharoth has a passion regarding women’s education for poverty alleviation. As a Cambodian born and raised, Sopharoth hopes to see a Cambodia where women can realize their potential and become equal contributors to their families and society. Her previous work includes: workshop and scholarship information sharing sessions for university students in Cambodia, mentoring to female university students, and blog writing raising awareness on women and gender issues. With a background in Economics and Political Science, Sopharoth will focus on international policy in her master’s program to study the implications of international development and culturally-aware solutions to solving issues in Cambodia and the Global South.

3. Ghosts on the Tongue: Folklore, Mythology, and the Spirits of Contemporary Cambodia by Grace Neaksai Hough

Abstract: This project is an exploration of how folklore, mythology, and ghost stories mix with daily life in Cambodia and Khmer communities. From childrens’ books to wedding ceremonies, stories are everywhere and they inform identities. Stories make up a fundamental piece of human psychology that informs our perception of the world and our place in it from an early age. Stories are told to teach, to entertain, and to make sense of what we perceive. In a world where the exchange and preservation of cultures facilitated by the internet is faster than anyone could have imagined only a few decades ago, stories are more important than ever. Themes of love, hope, vengeance, and triumph over struggles cross boundaries of language and evoke a solidarity to the human experience in this interconnected world where it’s just as easy to see differences as it is to see similarities. Grace explores this solidarity through interviews, comparative research, and her takes on storytelling from a creative writing perspective on a new podcast launched during the Junior Resident Fellows Program.

Bio: Grace Neaksai Hough is an undergraduate researcher from Texas A&M University earning a BS in Visualization with a concentration in Animation and minors in English and Museum Studies. Her primary focus is the interconnections of folklore, mythology, and ghost stories across cultures, with special interest in Khmer folklore and its representation in animation and Western media. She has previously published an undergraduate creative writing thesis with the Aggie Creative Collective as part of Texas A&M’s LAUNCH program and is currently working on two long-term projects related to her Cambodian-American mother’s experiences during the Khmer Rouge era. One is a biography of her mother and extended family. The second is a historical novel inspired by many of the true stories in the biography. She aims to one day produce and write her own animated TV show influenced by Cambodian and Southeast Asian folklore.

4. Ritual Responsibilities: Khmer Buddhism and the Family During and After Democratic Kampuchea by Bryley Williams

Abstract: This research explores Khmer Buddhism during and after Democratic Kampuchea, arguing that the accumulation of unfulfilled ritual responsibilities toward kin during Democratic Kampuchea exacerbated a sense of moral and cosmic disorder within the familial consciousness. However, due to the intertwined nature of Khmer Buddhism and the family in Cambodia, the continued sense of obligation and the performance of rituals, even retroactively, were central to the restabilization of moral, cosmic, and familial order. Finally, this research aims to demonstrate how studying personal religious rituals deepens historical understanding.

Bio: Bryley Williams is an undergraduate at Columbia University, where she studies History. Bryley is particularly interested in religion, memory, and how these two themes have intersected within different historical contexts. Bryley is a Columbia University Laidlaw Scholar, and she is grateful to the Center for Khmer Studies and the Laidlaw Undergraduate Research & Leadership Program for supporting her research.


5. Rebellion Through Resourcefulness: A Collection of Medical Stories from Cambodians Under the Khmer Rouge Regime by Felicia Oriana “Ori” Peterson

Abstract: From 1975-1979, people in Cambodia found ways to survive the Khmer Rouge period through their creativity and use of scarce resources. Methods range from prior knowledge of traditional medicine and plant-based remedies to deceiving members of the Khmer Rouge cadre. Medical practices varied due to insufficient supplies. Higher-ranked cadres and their families continued to have access to Western medicine and procedures, for example. Everyday life for the majority of Cambodians during this time included constant risk through malnutrition and surveillance, where minor infections could become life threatening without the wisdom to address one’s health concern. Through a series of interviews from Cambodians living in the United States, France, and Cambodia, an opportunity to learn different strategies continues the customary way of passing down knowledge to the next generation.

Bio: Felicia Oriana “Ori” Peterson received her B.A. at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota majoring in International Studies, with an Economics minor and concentrations in History and International Development. She is primarily interested in understanding and addressing barriers to basic needs for a minimum standard of living in various contexts. Prior experience includes conducting research in Kumasi, Ghana on food access and food purchasing conservation strategies for Ghanaians from different income levels.

6. Sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge era: What have women done to raise awareness about this issue? by Vuthy Khorn

Abstract: Sexual violence is a term that has a narrower meaning than gender-based violence but is often used interchangeably. However, sexual violence is limited to acts or activities that threaten to affect sex. In this research I will focus on sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge era and what women have done so far to raise awareness on this issue for the next generation. This research will focus on two areas of study. First, this research will focus on the respondent’s writings. Subsequently, it will look at n the ECCC’s case 002/02, which examined sexual violence during the Khmer Rouge era. This research will contribute as messages of women (voice of women) in educating the next generation about their past.

Bio: Vuthy Khorn is a 22 year-old who was born and raised in Kampong Chhnang Province. He attended Udong High School and graduated in 2018. In that same year Vuthy started his university studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in History, Vuthy now works at the National Archives of Cambodia and he is also a Thai language teacher.


7. Cultural Diplomacy as a Statecraft for Cambodian National Branding by Sivven Oung

Abstract: The main focus of this paper is to examine the essence of cultural diplomacy and how Cambodia can utilize the best practices of cultural diplomacy to streamline her national branding. It examines the sources of cultural diplomacy and its utility in a Cambodian context by exploring relevant literature reviews and assessing how small states materialize this statecraft of foreign policy. In addition, it also studies the development of Cambodian cultural diplomacy through the lens of cultural heritage and cuisine and how they complement national branding. Finally, the paper draws an interpretive conclusion and policy recommendations regarding the aspects of cultural diplomacy for Cambodia to further uphold her national branding.

Bio: Sivven Oung is a junior majoring in International Studies at Royal University of Phnom Penh. Her research interests lie in Cambodia’s foreign policy, international relations in the Asia-Pacific region, and public health.

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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