“Women’s Bodies in Phnom Penh: Gender and Urban Planning for Researchers and Practitioners”

Ms. Tara Tran

Today, Phnom Penh is one of the fastest-growing cities in Southeast Asia, but there are concerns about equitable life in the city, for women and other marginalized groups. Historical inquiry on the gendered nature of urban planning in Phnom Penh is critical to addressing such contemporary issues, from women’s rural-urban migration and mobility within the city, to access to housing and healthcare, and the right to feel safe and empowered.

In collaboration with Pannasastra International School (PSIS) in Phnom Penh, the Center for Khmer Studies organized a public presentation on “Women’s Bodies in Phnom Penh: Gender and Urban Planning for Researchers and Practitioners” on 28 October 2019 at PSIS. The lecture was presented by Ms. Tara Tran, a Ph.D. Candidate in History at Johns Hopkins University, USA. It mainly focused on a history of gender in urban planning in early colonial Phnom Penh, beginning in the 1880s and continuing into the 1930s. Coincidentally, this period of the capital’s urban development intersected with the emergence of colonial law, policy, and practice that attempted to govern non-white women’s bodies in the city through bureaucracies and cultures like regulating sex work, establishing maternity clinics, and calling out violence against women.

This event was well attended by participants working in non-government Organizations and universities in Phnom Penh. They expressed their strong interest in the presentation of Ms. Tran through the lively interaction and participation in the Questions & Answers session after the presentation.

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