For CKS, 2016 started with a succession of exciting academic events, visits and research projects. For the second consecutive year, we received fellowship applications from Cambodian scholars who will be conducting their research along the American and French fellows. Our fellows’ research topics range from “Exploring Parental Experience of Trauma as a Risk Factor for Child Mortality in Cambodia” to “The Council of Ministers of the French Protectorate, a Prosopographical Study” through to “Cosmopolitan Cambodia: Arts in the Cambodia Golden Age and Post-UNTAC”.
We also organized conferences on the subject of traditional medicines and the cartography of memory and had four of our mid-career regional program participants present their papers at the First Asian Conference on Asian Security held in Taiwan. Meanwhile U.S. Ambassador William A. Heidt came to meet our American fellows in our Siem Reap office. The following will give you a brief idea as to how busy we have been for the past months.
2016 Senior Fellowships
The 2016 cohort of applicants was excellent with outstanding research proposals from American, Cambodian and French applicants. The US fellows are funded by the Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs via the Council of American Research Centers (CAORC). The Cambodians are generously funded by three CKS private donors, and the French researchers receive financial support from the Scaler Foundation. Among the 15 participants who were awarded short and long-term fellowships, 10 are PhD students and 5 are post-doctoral researchers. Their projects draw from a wide range of disciplines that include history, anthropology, geography, development studies, educational studies, political science, archaeology, sociology and epidemiology, Buddhist studies and art history.
2016 Cornell Program: Chinese Empire and the Cambodian Experience
In January, CKS board member Professor Andrew Mertha travelled back to Cambodia with a new group of students for the very popular joint study abroad program launched by CKS and the Cornell Southeast Asia Program “Chinese Empire and the Cambodian Experience”. This time he was working with Emiko Stock, a French former CKS senior fellow and a current PhD candidate at the Department of Anthropology at Cornell. Rachael Communale a former CKS junior fellow (summer 2014) participated as the Student Services Coordinator. This winter program was once again an excellent study abroad experience for the students who found both the academic and culture learning process extremely rewarding. A few of them will want to further their knowledge of Cambodia and Southeast Asia. Next year’s joint program with Cornell will focus on Performing Angkor and will be led by Professor Kaja McGowan.
TC3 Community College
Running in parallel with the Cornell winter program, Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) sent their very first group of students to travel to Southeast Asia to explore Cambodia. Thanks to the support of CKS and Cornell SEAP, TC3 gathered ten students from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds. The TC3 students interacted well with the Cornell group and some of the highlights of their Cambodian experience included volunteering at the CKS children’s library and a meeting with the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh. Several TC3 students expressed their interest in returning to Cambodia to either study in a national university or volunteer for a local environmental organization. TC3, CKS and Cornell are now making plans to bring another cohort to Cambodia for the winter of 2017.
Conference on the History of Medicine in Southeast Asia
Ten years following its inaugural conference held at our Center, the History of Medicine in Southeast Asia (HOMSEA) returned to Wat Damnak to celebrate its 10th annual anniversary and organize its 6th International HOMSEA conference. The event featured 30 papers from scholars from the U.S, Australia, Canada and from Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. CKS board member, Dr Rethy Chhem, whose PhD dissertation was on traditional medicine in Cambodia, also participated. This scholarly event featured excellent presentations exploring the colonial history of medicine in the region. The final round table discussed the future prospects of Southeast Asian medicine in light of globalization and the rapid erosion of traditional knowledge.
Round table on the Cartography of Memory
At the start of 2016, the academic exchanges between Cambodian universities and the University of Paris 8, formed the basis for a series of scholarly events scheduled in Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap. These explored the ‘repressed side’ of history and its multi-faceted consequences and followed on from a workshop dedicated to “Images of Cambodia: Myth, History and Memory” organized at the National Archives of Paris in April 2015.
Scholars from various disciplines (history, art history and anthropology) discussed the process inherent to collective memory and the ways collective trauma derived from the tragedies of history has led to cultural and social transmissions in today’s world. Participants presented academic papers across three major lines of inquiry: the role of images and archives in the understanding of the historical past; the memory of places and physical spaces, and the emerging artistic scene.
Workshop for Cambodian Researchers
CKS organized its fourth Workshop for Cambodian Researchers, featuring a presentation by Mr. Oudom Ham, participant in the 2015 mid-career Regional Program. His research, which focuses on conflicting narratives about the Lower Mekong dam projects, stimulated an excellent peer review exercise thanks to scholars with backgrounds in medical anthropology, environmental studies and public policy.
CKS alumni meeting
This year’s alumni meeting gathered more than twenty people from various CKS programs and initiatives. Most of the alumni came from the Rockefeller program, the translation and publication program, the mid-career professional regional program and the CKS senior fellowship. We also had French senior fellows attending along with a few CKS SEA travel grantees from the Center for Biodiversity Conservation at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. CKS Cambodian senior fellow, Dr. Un Leang engaged the participants in an exciting discussion on the guiding principles of higher education in Cambodia and its future.
First Asian Conference on Human Security: Taiwan
CKS participated in the First Asian Conference on Human Security held in the Overseas Chinese University in Taichung, Taiwan with a panel on cross-border conflict in the ASEAN region. This panel featured papers written by four participants in last year’s mid-career regional program. Dr. Titipol Phakdeewanich, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science, Ubon Ratchathani University, Thailand, presented on “The Prospects for democratic and Human Rights Progress within ASEAN: Laos and Thailand”; Jularat Damrongviteetham, Researcher at the Berghof Foundation in Bangkok discussed “The concept of “Common Space” as a tool for conflict transformation and human security in the Deep South of Thailand”; Oudom Ham, Center for Khmer Studies Regional Program Fellow, looked into the “Discourse Analysis of Hydropower and Anti-Dam Movements in Cambodia”; and Duy-Ly Chu, Lecturer at the Faculty of Oriental Studies, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University in Ho Chi Minh, examined the “Regional Border Conflicts and the role and responsibility of the ASEAN: The case of Preah Vihear”. The conference, which gathered more than 50 scholars from Asia and beyond (Canada, Australia) was organized by The Asian Political and International Studies Association (APISA), the Institute of Development and Human Security (Ewha Womans University, Korea) and the Osaka School of International Public Policy.
Visit of the US Ambassador and USAID
Ambassador William A. Heidt came to visit our Center along with April O’Neill, USAID Program Officer at the Democracy & Governance Office. Ambassador Heidt had a very fruitful meeting with the American ECA/ CAORC fellows. PhD Candidate Trent Walker who is researching “Buddhism Unfolded: Sung Leporello Liturgies from Middle to Modern Cambodia” and Prof. Nathan Badenoch, a Kyoto University-based linguist studying Jarai and Kacho’ languages came to present their projects and discuss the state of higher education research and employment in Cambodia.