History and memory : constructing a narrative of the Cambodian Genocide
Teo, Grace Su-Yin
Date of Issue2017-03-25
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Today, Cambodia houses one of the seven wonders of the world – the Angkor Wat. Beyond the splendor and majestic beauty of the ancient ruins however, lies a tragic past that took hold of the country just 40 years ago. The Cambodian Genocide is sadly, not as well-known as its magnificent counterpart. Where the former speaks of the country’s glory and might, the latter whispers the death and destruction of its people. Its consequences are still reverberating in a society that is grappling with its tortured past to pave a way for its future. As Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia says, “a society cannot know itself if it does not have an accurate memory of its own history”. It is important to speak, to document and to include all types of memories relating to the Cambodian Genocide into the national narrative. This paper aims to examine how the memory of the Khmer Rouge is portrayed and constructed in the consciousness of its people. It features a small collection of personal memories of Khmer Rouge survivors that are not often heard of in the mainstream narrative and how these personal stories are passed on to the next generation. There is also an examination of how the narrative of the school textbook and places of remembrance dedicated to the Khmer Rouge help to propagate nationalist agendas. Lastly, the culmination of the chapters amalgate into an analysis of the struggle between history and memory and how memory can be reconstructed depending on political agendas.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University