From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution, and the Making of Cambodian Diaspora
Khatharya Um | Ethnic Studies | New York University Press, 2015
In a century of mass atrocities, the Khmer Rouge regime marked Cambodia with one of the most extreme genocidal instances in human history. What emerged in the aftermath of the regime’s collapse in 1979 was a nation fractured by death and dispersal. It is estimated that nearly one-fourth of the country’s population perished from hard labor, disease, starvation, and executions. Another half million Cambodians fled their ancestral homeland, with over one hundred thousand finding refuge in America.
From the Land of Shadows surveys the Cambodian diaspora and the struggle to understand and make meaning of this historical trauma. Drawing on more than 250 interviews with survivors across the United States as well as in France and Cambodia, Khatharya Um places these accounts in conversation with studies of comparative revolutions, totalitarianism, transnationalism, and memory works to illuminate the pathology of power as well as the impact of auto-genocide on individual and collective healing. Exploring the interstices of home and exile, forgetting and remembering, From the Land of Shadows follows the ways in which Cambodian individuals and communities seek to rebuild connections frayed by time, distance, and politics in the face of this injurious history.
Read the CRG FaultLines interview with Khatharya Um discussing this volume.