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The Organization and I​m​p​l​e​m​e​n​t​a​t​i​o​n​ ​o​f​ ​V​i​o​l​e​n​c​e​ ​u​n​d​e​r​ ​t​h​e​ ​K​h​​m​e​r​ ​Rouge​


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This talk examines how and why local subordinates carry out leaders’ orders for mass killings. While existing studies have mostly focused on the causes of genocide, William Kwok’s dissertation examines the organization and implementation of mass killings in Southeast Asia. Based on eight years of original research (2012–), William’s study combines archival, computational, and ethnographic methods to examine mass killings in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. His study also makes cross-national comparisons with other genocides in Southeast Asia and the Holocaust.



William Kwok is a CKS Research Fellow and PhD Candidate in Political Science at Yale University, specializing in comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. His research interests include state-sponsored violence; mass killings; military organizations and armed groups; and Southeast and East Asia. William’s dissertation “The Banality of Organization: Mass killings as a coordination problem in the shadow of war” is a comparative study of the political organization of mass killings, with an empirical focus on Southeast Asia. His dissertation research in Cambodia has been funded by the Center for Khmer Studies, Council on American Overseas Research Centers, and the MacMillan Center.


Jessica Garber is a PhD Candidate in Anthropology at Boston University. Jessica’s research is focused on the connections between education, employment, and gendered expectations in Southeast Asia. She is interested in the ways that young people in Cambodia navigate employment in the rapidly changing and rebuilding post-civil war atmosphere. Additionally, she is interested in how young people’s expectations and aspirations for themselves and others are potentially shaped by Theravada Buddhist morality and national development discourse.


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