The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia

1st Edition

Edited by Katherine Brickell, Simon Springer


456 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2016-09-15
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Offering a comprehensive overview of the current situation in the country, The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia provides a broad coverage of social, cultural, political and economic development within both rural and urban contexts during the last decade. A detailed introduction places Cambodia within its global and regional frame, and the handbook is then divided into five thematic sections:

  • Political and Economic Tensions
  • Rural Developments
  • Urban Conflicts
  • Social Processes
  • Cultural Currents

The first section looks at the major political implications and tensions that have occurred in Cambodia, as well as the changing parameters of its economic profile. The handbook then highlights the major developments that are unfolding within the rural sphere, before moving on to consider how cities in Cambodia, and particularly Phnom Penh, have become primary sites of change. The fourth section covers the major processes that have shaped social understandings of the country, and how Cambodians have come to understand themselves in relation to each other and the outside world. Section five analyses the cultural dimensions of Cambodia’s current experience, and how identity comes into contact with and responds to other cultural themes.

Bringing together a team of leading scholars on Cambodia, the handbook presents an understanding of how sociocultural and political economic processes in the country have evolved. It is a cutting edge and interdisciplinary resource for scholars and students of Southeast Asian Studies, as well as policymakers, sociologists and political scientists with an interest in contemporary Cambodia.


This Handbook is sure to become the definitive starting point for just about anyone—from students to policymakers—to understand the political and economic tensions, rural developments, urban conflicts, social processes, and cultural currents underpinning today’s Cambodia. The contributors are top-notch and include a wide range of scholars ranging from geographers turned social constructivists to demographers to anti-corruption experts to journalists turned biographers. The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia is truly a collection of gems that will be mined for many years to come.

Sophal Ear, Occidental College, Los Angeles, USA

In this crowded, courageous and penetrating collection of essays, over fifty scholars and activists examine some of the issues that press against Cambodia today. These deeply committed, highly professional chapters come together to form a path-breaking, invaluable, but often saddening book.

David Chandler, Monash University, Australia

Having given six years of my service for the promotion and protection of human rights in Cambodia as a senior UN official, I was pleased to see the publication of this book which examines in an interdisciplinary manner different facets of Cambodia. After going through a tragic past, Cambodia is emerging out of the ashes of conflict, lasting more nearly 30 years, as a forward-looking nation. It has started to build state institutions and infrastructure from scratch and is making significant progress in this regard. However, there is a dearth of academic literature on different aspects of Cambodian life and this book seems to fill that gap and fill in a handsome manner. Hence, it is a welcome and timely publication. The coverage of the book is comprehensive and should thus provide the reader with a good overview of the situation of the legal, political and economic landscape in Cambodia, a country with a rich cultural heritage. I highly commend this book to those interested in Cambodia.

Surya P. Subedi, University of Leeds, UK

The book opens a window into the realities of life for those living in the country today. More than 50 international and Cambodian researchers shine a spotlight on the justice system, microcredit, rural livelihoods and urban conflicts such as forced relocations.

Michelle Vachon, The Cambodia Daily

… the "Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia" remains a vital and indispensable guide to understanding Cambodian society as it is today. Besides exploring the com-plexities of current areas of conflict, it also provides a timely and highly relevant glimpse into a diversity of subjects such as visual arts, the maintenance and transfor-mation of traditional music, the persistence of spirits and religious and moral order, the politics of good water governance, the structure of the education system, labor rights, micro-finance, and the judicial system and important laws. All in all, the volume is required reading for practitioners, academ-ics, and professionals working on and in Cambodia.

Daniel Bultmann, ASIEN, The German Journal on Contemporary Asia

Table of Contents

Introduction to contemporary Cambodia Katherine Brickell and Simon Springer

Part 1: Political and economic tensions

1. The contemporary geopolitics of Cambodia: Alignments in regional and global contexts Sok Udom Deth, Kairat Moldashev and Serkan Bulut

2. Justice inverted: Law and human rights in Cambodia Catherine Morris

3. Justice and the past: The Khmer Rouge tribunal Rachel Hughes and Maria Elander

4. Civil society in Cambodia: Challenges and contestation Louise Coventry

5. Micro-saturated: The promises and pitfalls of microcredit as a development solution Maryann Bylander

6. The media in Cambodia Sebastian Strangio

7. Tourism in Cambodia: Opportunities and challenges Richard Sharpley and Peter McGrath

Part 2: Rural developments

8. Exploring rural livelihoods through the lens of coastal fishers Melissa Marschke

9. Practices and challenges towards sustainability Sokphea Young

10. The imperative of good water governance in Cambodia Joakim Öjendal and Ros Bandeth

11. Cambodia’s highlanders: Land, livelihoods and the politics of indigeneity Jonathan Padwe

12. Under pressure: Environmental risk and contemporary resilience strategies in rural Cambodia Laurie Parsons

13. Concessions in Cambodia: Governing profits, extending state power and enclosing resources from the colonial era to the present Jean-Christophe Diepart and Laura Schoenberger

14. From chicken wing receipts to students in military uniforms: Land titling and property in post-conflict Cambodia Robin Biddulph and Shaun Williams

Part 3: Urban conflicts

15. Urban megaprojects and city planning in Phnom Penh Tom Percival

16. Labor rights and unions in Cambodia Dennis Arnold and Dae-oup Chang

17. The ties that bind: Rural-urban linkages in the Cambodian migration system Sabina Lawreniuk

18. Real estate productions, practices, and strategies in contemporary Phnom Penh: An overview of social, economic, and political issues Gabriel Fauveaud

19. Forced relocation in Cambodia Jessie Connell and Mark Grimsditch

20. Homelessness in Cambodia: The terror of gentrification Simon Springer

21. Phnom Penh’s relocation sites and the obliteration of politics Giorgio Talocci and Camillo Boano

22. Street vending in Phnom Penh: Flourishing but invisible Kyoko Kusakabe

Part 4: Social processes

23. The contemporary landscape of education in Cambodia: Hybrid spaces of the "public" and "private" William Brehm

24. Health: medical cosmologies and medical inequities Jan Ovesen and Ing-Britt Trankell

25. Violence against women and girls in Cambodia Katherine Brickell

26. Gendered politics of power in contemporary Cambodia Mona Lilja and Mikael Baaz

27. Sex politics and moral panics: LGBT communities, sex/entertainment works and sexually- active youth in Cambodia Heidi Hoefinger, Pisey Ly and Srun Srorn

28. Children, childhood and youth in contemporary Cambodia Melina T. Czymoniewicz-Klippel

29. Households and family processes Patrick Heuveline

30. Digital technologies in contemporary Cambodia Jayson Richardson

Part 5: Cultural currents

31. Ethnic identities in Cambodia Alvin Lim

32. Violence and memorialization in Cambodia Savina Sirik and James Tyner

33. A shifting universe – religion and moral order in Cambodia Alexandra Kent

34. The persistent presence of Cambodian spirits: Contemporary knowledge production in Cambodia Courtney Work

35. Natural and cultural heritage in Cambodia Jo Gillespie

36. Destination Cambodia: A volunteer tourism boom Tess Guiney

37. Addressing the contemporary: Recent trends and debates in Cambodian visual art Joanna Wolfarth

38. Finding new ground: Maintaining and transforming traditional music Catherine Grant

About the Editors

Katherine Brickell is Reader in Human Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, and recipient of the 2014 Royal Geographical Society Gill Memorial Award. For over a decade, her research has focused on gender, violence and rights in Cambodia.

Simon Springer is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Victoria, Canada and recipient of the 2015 Association of American Geographers Stanley D. Brunn Young Scholar Award. He has authored four books, including Cambodia’s Neoliberal Order (Routledge, 2012).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies