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Public Presentations: Junior Resident Fellows Program 2023

Day 1: August 10, 2023 from 13:30-16:30 PM


1:40 pm – 2:00 pm Understanding Tantric Buddhism in Cambodia through Hevajra and Vajrasattva Images by Camille Desruelle

Abstract: Since it first appeared in Cambodia, Tantric Buddhism has left few traces. Most textual sources from Cambodia have disappeared over time, so the studies that are carried out today are based on a wide variety of materials, like foreign tantras and testimonies, inscriptions, and archeological evidence. This research attempts to understand the advent and the development of Tantric Buddhism in Cambodia by exploring previous studies, consulting various sources, and analyzing the iconography of two main deities: Hevajra and Vajrasattva.

Bio: Camille Desruelle is a student in the Archeology and Art History program at the École du Louvre in Paris. She has a real passion for Southeast Asian arts.


2:00 pm – 2:20 pm Will the Temples of Angkor Collapse due to the Water Shortage? by Neel Louarn

Abstract: The great temples of Angkor were built on a sand-based foundation because sand wet from groundwater creates a strong structure for the temple. However, the water table is lowering because of water pumping in the Siem Reap region and climate change, which may affect temples’ stability. This research project is an attempt to gain a better understanding of the hydraulic system of Angkor. It demonstrates the importance of water management in the preservation of Angkor temples, which is significant to not only Cambodian heritage, but also world history.

Bio: Neel Louarn is a master’s student of Water Science at Montpellier University and AgroParisTech. He is deeply interested in the complexities of water management.


2:20 pm – 2:40 pm Reamker Paintings from Wat Bo and Silver Pagoda by Audrey De Moura

Abstract: Compared to architecture and sculpture, painting is the lesser-known Khmer artistic manifestation. My research will explore this form of art through the post-Angkor mural paintings of Reamker, the Khmer version of the Indian Ramayana in Wat Bo and the Silver Pagoda. It will also focus on the importance and influence of this Hindu myth within the history of Cambodia and how it has adapted ideas from Theravada Buddhism to become emblematic of Khmer culture, persisting even until today.

Bio: Audrey De Moura is a recent graduate in Art History at the École du Louvre in Paris. She has a profound interest in India and Indianized cultures and societies.


2:40 pm – 3:00 pm Drawing the Past: Balancing Impression and Reconstruction to Bring Cambodian Heritage Back to Life by Lila Merlin

Abstract: Embodying the old adage: “an image is worth a thousand words”, reconstructive drawings are powerful tools to put flesh on the bare bones of the past. Combining a strong foundation in art history and archeology with a creative approach driven by impressions and feelings, this project aims to offer convincing reconstructions that would be able to challenge and enrich the discourse between these disciplines as well as help a  variety of audiences to understand and relate to Cambodian heritage. The final artworks will focus on several sculptures from Cambodian collections, trying to place them in a realistic environment during their veneration under the Khmer Empire.

Bio: Lila Merlin is a recent graduate from the École du Louvre, Paris.


3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Coffee Break


3:20 pm – 3:40 pm When Bamboo Snapped with the Wind: Cambodia’s relations with the U.S. and China during Prince Sihanouk’s Administration by Seanguy Im

Abstract: This study explores the factors influencing political alignment, the impact of foreign aid, the Vietnam War, potential conflicts, and public perception on Cambodia’s relations with the U.S. and China during Prince Sihanouk’s Administration (1955 – 1970). It also considers diplomatic challenges, their subsequent effects, and Cambodia’s adaptive resilience amidst evolving international dynamics.

Bio: Seanguy Im is a recent graduate from the Royal University of Law and Economics in Law and the Royal University of Phnom Penh in International Studies.


3:40 pm – 4:00 pm Cambodian Women’s Views on the Traditional Role of Housewife in the 21st Century by Sok Raksa Mean

Abstract: Married Cambodian women have long been expected to perform the role of the traditional housewife faithfully, from managing the household to the well-being of their children, in order to be considered valuable. In the 21st century, married Cambodian women tend to seek careers outside the house to earn extra income and pursue their own interests, redefining the role of traditional housewife. My research aims to explore the contemporary definition of the traditional role of the housewife as it is perceived by Cambodian women.

Bio: Sok Raksa Mean is a junior at Paragon International University majoring in International Relations with interests in gender inequality, world history, and art.


4:00 pm – 4:20 pm The Relationship between Cambodian Children and Their Family on the Freedom of Choice by Keolakena Kin

Abstract: As a Cambodian, I learned about the story of Tum Teav which teaches children that parents have a large influence on their child’s life choices, especially their daughters. In this regard, this research will explore contemporary situations where family members may influence the choices young women make in their lives. Based on a survey in Siem Reap, my study aims to demonstrate how young women feel about their right to confront their family’s influence on their decision making process for major life events.

Bio: Keolakena Kin is a junior at Paragon International University majoring in International Relations and Political Science.


4:20 pm – 4:30 pm Information about the second day public presentation



Day 2: August 11, 2023 from 9:00-11:00 AM

9:00 am – 9:10 am Opening Remarks


9:10 am – 9:30 am The Sustenance of Silence by Kendrah Su

Abstract: This creative work will draw from personal interviews and narratives provided by research participants to explore the nuances of personal and legal justice. Today, Khmer Rouge survivors live with the constant possibility of interacting with or passing by perpetrators of the regime. The population must reckon with abandoning the roles of victims and perpetrators— a feat that leaves many quiet about their experiences. This work searches for what fuels and sustains this ongoing silence.

Bio: Kendrah Su is a current undergraduate student in Psychology at Princeton University with expected graduation in 2026.


9:30 am – 9:50 am Measuring the Success of Belt and Road Initiative in Cambodia by Tatiana Edquist

Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an international infrastructure development strategy designed to recreate the benefits of the Eurasian Silk Road through Chinese investments in land and sea infrastructure. Cambodia stands to benefit significantly from such plans, yet; despite the project’s ambitious goals, BRI investments in Cambodia have a mixed record as the overall impact on Cambodia’s economy and the lives of Khmer people has been subject to debate. This work underscores the need for careful evaluation of the BRI by balancing economic gains with social, political, and environmental considerations, as well as maintaining a diversified approach to foreign partnerships.

Bio: Tatiana “Tanya” Edquist is a senior at Loyola Marymount University pursuing a degree in International Relations with a double minor in Global Economics and Philosophy.


9:50 am – 10:10 am Localized Development in Cambodia: A Case Study of HURREDO by Merel Adriaanse

Abstract: International development discourse has recently started addressing “localized” aid efforts, which entails localizing development and humanitarian initiatives so that those who understand the context and the issues at hand are those with the resources and ability to address them. This research aims to explore localized aid by studying the history of development in Cambodia and introducing a case study of The Human Resource and Rural Economic Development Organization (HURREDO), which is focused on strengthening food security and expanding livelihoods to alleviate poverty in rural Cambodia.

Bio: Merel Adriaanse is an undergraduate student in Political Science and International Studies at Macalester College in the U.S. with a keen interest in international development.


10:10 am – 10:30 am Portraying Transitions in Urban Siem Reap’s Quotidien by Annelise Ayuravann Ratner

Abstract: While Siem Reap has long been appreciated as a site of historical and archeological wonder, less attention has been directed towards the publicly visible vestiges of cultural memory and identity that populate its contemporary urban landscape. These quotidian canvases — storefronts, food stands, signage, furniture, and more — serve as a fragmented album of (un)intentional exhibitions, obscurations, and revisions of the city’s numerous transformations. This work aims to place a collection of original photographs in conversation with scholarship on visual culture and intimate accounts from Siem Reap residents and passersby.

Bio: Annelise Ayuravann Ratner is Cambodian American filmmaker, photographer, and writer.


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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