Academic journal article American Studies

FROM THE LAND OF SHADOWS: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora

Academic journal article American Studies

FROM THE LAND OF SHADOWS: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora

Article excerpt

FROM THE LAND OF SHADOWS: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora. By Khatharya Um. New York: New York University Press. 2015.

The history of Cambodia is complex as it is entangled with the history of Vietnam and overshadowed by the rule of the Khmer Rouge, a brutal revolutionary group that aimed to radically transform the country. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge took control of schools, hospitals, and communal labor in order to turn Cambodia into an agrarian state based on the Maoist-Communist model. Subsequently, Cambodians were forcefully relocated and pressed into servitude on collective farms in labor camps. Those who could not work for the regime or opposed it were immediately killed, and thousands fled the country and sought refuge in the neighboring countries as well as in the United States, Europe, and Australia. In the relentless pursuit of their ultimate goal, the Khmer Rouge committed one of the most severe genocides the history of humankind. After the collapse of this regime, those who had survived in Cambodia as well as those who had fled had to find a way to cope with the legacy of its history.

Khatharya Um's book From the Land of Shadows: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Cambodian Diaspora traces the tragic history of Cambodia and closely examines the Cambodian diaspora, revealing how these people struggle to cope with and make sense of this historical trauma. In seven chapters that are divided in three parts, the author analyzes more than 250 first-hand accounts of survivors in Cambodia, the United States, and France and contextualizes their stories within Cambodian history. …

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