Year published :2008

Pages :360 pp.

Size :14x21 cm.

Rights :Southeast Asia

ISBN: 9789749511398

Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860-1945

by Penny Edwards

This strikingly original study of Cambodian nationalism brings to life eight turbulent decades of cultural change and sheds new light on the colonial ancestry of Pol Pot’s murderous dystopia. Penny Edwards re-creates the intellectual milieux and cultural traffic linking Europe and empire, interweaving analysis of key movements and ideas in the French Protectorate of Cambodge with contemporary developments in the Métropole. From the naturalist Henri Mouhot’s expedition to Angkor in 1860 to the nationalist Son Ngoc Thanh’s short-lived premiership in 1945, this history of ideas tracks the talented Cambodian and French men and women who shaped the contours of the modern Khmer nation. Their visions and ambitions played out within a shifting landscape of Angkorean temples, Parisian museums, Khmer printing presses, world’s fairs, Buddhist monasteries, and Cambodian youth hostels. This is crosscultural history at its best.

With its fresh take on the dynamics of colonialism and nationalism, Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation, 1860–1945 is essential reading for both scholars and general readers.

About the author

Penny Edwards is assistant professor of Southeast Asian studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

What others are saying

“Penny Edwards’ Cambodge is an original and impressive tour de force of scholarly analysis. She provides a richly textured cultural genealogy of state formation in Cambodia by reassessing the impact of French colonialism on modern Khmer thought and nation building. Relying on extensive archival research, Edwards traces a complex cultural history of Angkor as the site of competing religious and political investment that not only redefined regional boundaries and imperial power relations but also determined the very notion of Khmerness.”
—Panivong Norindr, author of Phantasmatic Indochina: French Colonial Ideology in Architecture, Film, and Literature

“In this well-conceived, highly readable book, Edwards examines museography, spectacles, the politics of authenticity, religion, arts and crafts, and tourism and architecture, among others, to reveal the many uses of the Cambodian past(s). Previous work on Cambodia has focused overwhelmingly on Angkor or Pol Pot’s regime: at last, a book fills the void in between, while also shedding new light on both.”
—Eric Jennings, author of Vichy in the Tropics: Pétain’s National Revolution in Madagascar, Guadeloupe, and Indochina, 1940–1944