People of Virtue: Reconfiguring Religion, Power and Moral Order in Cambodia Todayby NIAS
2009, 320pp, 15x23 cm.
Much attention has been given to the “killing fields” of Cambodia, far less to how the country can recover and heal itself after such an experience. Crucial to this process has been the formation of a new moral order in Cambodia and hence the revival of religion in the country.
Certainly, the regeneration of the ritual life of a community may offer ways for people to formulate and relate to their collective stories through symbolism that recalls a shared cultural origin. However, this process requires that the representatives of religion and of morality do have credibility and moral authority, something that may be called into question by their past and present involvement in hegemonic political and secular affairs.
The importance of this volume, therefore, is not only that it contributes to the new interest in religion in Cambodia but also because it places the religious revival in a nuanced social, cultural and political context and shows how Cambodia pursues order in large part through reference to her past.