The Killing of Cambodia: Geography, Genocide and the Unmaking of Space  book cover
1st Edition

The Killing of Cambodia: Geography, Genocide and the Unmaking of Space

ISBN 9781138254282
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
220 Pages

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Book Description

Between 1975 and 1978, the Khmer Rouge carried out genocide in Cambodia unparalleled in modern history. Approximately 2 million died - almost one quarter of the population. Taking an explicitly geographical approach, this book argues whether the Khmer Rouge's activities not only led to genocide, but also terracide - the erasure of space. In the Cambodia of 1975, the landscape would reveal vestiges of an indigenous pre-colonial Khmer society, a French colonialism and American intervention. The Khmer Rouge, however, were not content with retaining the past inscriptions of previous modes of production and spatial practices. Instead, they attempted to erase time and space to create their own utopian vision of a communal society. The Khmer Rouge's erasing and reshaping of space was thus part of a consistent sacrifice of Cambodia and its people - a brutal justification for the killing of a country and the birth of a new place, Democratic Kampuchea. While focusing on Cambodia, the book provides a clearer geographic understanding to genocide in general and insights into the importance of spatial factors in geopolitical conflict.

Table of Contents

Contents: Imagining genocide; Irruptions and disruptions; The improbable revolution; The un-making of space; The placelessness of democratic Kampuchea; The political and the subject; A political understanding of genocide and justice; Bibliography; Index.

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James Tyner is Professor of Geography at Kent State University, USA.


'In The Killing of Cambodia, James Tyner takes a uniquely geographic perspective on the complex topic of genocide. He demonstrates why it is not so much the "making of history" that tells the story of genocide but the "erasure of space" that will lead us to consider important and difficult questions about genocide.' Shannon O'Lear, University of Kansas, USA 'Tyner correctly views the Cambodian genocide through the lens of competing geographical imaginations. In re-telling the genocide as a geographical history, he helps to remind readers of why social space is fundamental for our intellectual efforts to answer difficult questions about the horror of political violence.' Carl Dahlman, Miami University Ohio, USA '...Tyner’s book demonstrates the incredible complexities involved in understanding the Khmer Rouge tragedy, and offers up several additional insights such as the erasure of space to help comprehend this tragedy. I would highly recommend it for anyone working in Cambodia, or those working on issues of genocide or development in post-conflict or post-socialist situations.' Asia Pacific Viewpoint '...a powerful postmortem of Cambodia's death...' Envrionment and Planning C: Government and Policy