This book is about cultural work in torn-up societies. It narrates the establishment of an academic project in contemporary post-war Cambodia, when the country became the largest recipient of international aid. It depicts a Southeast Asian country at the crossroads of conflicting imaginaries of development through the lens of an independent organization that emerged out of the turmoil. It shows how the relations of domination of institutions from the ‘north’ effectively constrain alternative visions of action in the ‘south’ that fall outside the neo-liberal framework.
The account is a reflection on past ambitions and failures of the international good-will order, and a charge to change our approach in the future. It offers a cautionary tale whose significance transcends the Cambodian case.
Philippe M. F. Peycam, PhD. (1999), School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, is Director of the International Institute for Asian Studies, The Netherlands. He is the founding director of the Center for Khmer Studies, Cambodia. He has published a number of articles and a monograph on Southeast Asia: The Birth of Vietnamese Political Journalism, Saigon, 1916-30 (Columbia University Press, 2012).