Ethnic Chinese in Cambodia: In The Southeast Asian Context

This third volume of reading texts were selected by Dr. Peter Hammer, illustrating the theme covered by the program’s session: Minorities, Margins and Borders. These include four articles excerpted from the seminal pre-war study, The Chinese in Cambodia, by William Willmott, 1967.

-“The Economic Position of the Chinese in Cambodia”
-“Treaty Law and Condition: The Legal definition of the Chinese in Cambodia ”
-“The Social Organization of the Chinese Community”
-“The Emerging and Merging Elites in Cambodia”.

These texts, by describing the situation of the ethnic Chinese in pre-war post-colonial Cambodia, offer a vivid depiction of a minority community encountered in all Southeast Asian societies. The fifth selected article, “The Erosion of Patron-Client Relations in Southeast Asia”, by James Scott, gives another anthropological view on the social and political changes that have occurred in post-independence rural Southeast Asia.


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Religion and Practices in Southeast Asia

The four readings translated here were chosen by Dr. John Marston for their theoretical interest and for the ways they provide an introduction to the Buddhism of Cambodians and their neighbors in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. The article, “Localizing the Universal: Women, Motherhood and the Appeal of Early Theravada Buddhism”, is written by historian Barbara Wilson Andaya. Her article is an especially far-reaching and provocative study of the coming of Theravada Buddhism to Southeast Asia. Charles Keyes’ article, entitled “Gender and Religion : On the Complexity of Symbols”, is about novice ordination in Northern Thailand, analyzed very much from an anthropological perspective and already well-known in scholarly literature on Thai Buddhism. The article by Peter Koret describes a transition from “traditional” Lao writing on palm-leaf manuscripts to a more “modern” way of looking at the same corpus of literature, which the author argues, came to take on new meanings as it was printed in books and used to define national identity in the context of the new “modern” Lao state. The last article by Thien Do, “The Quest for Enlightenment and Cultural Identity: Buddhism in Contemporary Vietnam”, is about the modern history of Buddhism in Vietnam. The article describes the revitalization of Vietnamese Buddhism in the context of French colonialism and the movements to resist colonialism.


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