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Tradition and change: Khmer identity and democracy in the 20th century and beyond

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Item Summary

Title: Tradition and change: Khmer identity and democracy in the 20th century and beyond
Authors: Su, Christine M.
Advisor: McCutcheon, James
Issue Date: Dec 2003
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: This dissertation presents an analysis of Cambodia as it wrestles with the structural changes involved in its transition to democracy. I argue that the Khmer wish both to embrace the tenets of contemporary democracy, yet also to reclaim the ancient culture the Khmer Rouge set out to destroy. The physical and psychological tolls of decades of civil war and upheaval in Cambodia can never be adequately measured, and will never cease to inform the Khmer experience. Yet the Khmer are resilient, and have navigated centuries of uncertainty, incorporating new practices and adapting Khmer ways of life as a constant strategy for maintaining their kindred identity, superseding changes in leaders, occupiers, explorers, and settlers. Moreover, Khmer cultural values and traditions are shaping the ways in which democracy is incorporated into society. My thesis is that Khmer, as part of their identity renegotiation process, do and will continue to draw upon various cultural traditions and stories to make sense of their positions as members of a society now built upon a new framework--that is, they can and will "Khmerize" democracy by recognizing the old within the new (and vice versa). I suggest that Khmer are making choices about their futures, rather than allowing their neighbors or the international community to choose for them, and that the Khmer in my study are choosing democracy. This dissertation examines the ways in which Khmer actively participate in the dialogue about democracy and how it fits into their political, economic, social, and cultural futures.
Description: xix, 371 leaves
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/6911
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - American Studies



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