20 May – Day of Hate – A Note On Titles

Today is Mphei Ousophea, May 20th. During the eighties, it was more commonly called tngai chong komhoeng, the Day to [remain] Tied in Anger. I’d like to translate it as “The Day to Stay Angry,” or “Grudge Day.” The problem with the first is its colloquialism, and the problem with the latter is the potential confusion with kum, the Khmer word for grudge, which does not appear in the name of the day.

Really, the main problem with either is the dominance of Western literary tropes laid over Cambodia – as if there weren’t already too many palimpsests of history laid over the land. So we call it the Day of Hate, referring quite obviously to Orwell’s fantastic novel 1984. There are similarities, but the differences tend to be erased in this appropriation.

Regardless, because of the ECCC tribunal, the increased attention has led to a return of people calling this day “The Day of Hate.”

It was the Day of Hate that first focused my early interest in Cambodian funerary rituals, but what struck many of my advisors at the time was that it seemed to be barely hanging on. And they were right. It was a purely political ritual, attended almost exclusively by party members and villagers from party villages.

If we are to judge by the increase of media attention, the ritual has begun to transform into a more popular ritual, though it sounds very much the same to me.


2 thoughts on “20 May – Day of Hate – A Note On Titles

  1. erikwdavis says:

    I was too busy, and a bit depressed, when the Day of Hate came around this year. Luckily or luckily, the Day of Hate has made a massive resurgence in public visibility, at least in the mediascape.

    A number of people have therefore covered it: here are some of them:

    Ka-Set reports that Japanese company JC Royal, which was awarded a 30-year concession back in 2005 (it was a rather big deal at the time), has taken tickets (and profits) from the Choeung Ek (“Killing Fields”) site for three years now, without improving the site in the least. Surprise, Surprise.

    Ka-set also has a slightly more Day of Hate-specific piece here

    Mongkol writes about the event here

    Here‘s DetailsAreSketchy’s brief note on the event.

  2. Pingback: The Wet-Season Offensive at Preah Vihear? « imagining the real world

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