Richard Rechtman (1/2): “Cambodian refugees overwhelmed by their dead”

Richard Rechtman, Part 1 of an interview with whom is published in today’s Ka-Set, seems like a fascinating guy, one with whom I could endless discussions and productive disagreements. Foreigners often say that the “dead haunt Cambodians,” but they then often take this far too literally, as if it necessarily means that Cambodians experience their trauma as hauntings by the dead. Rechtman implies that his perspective on the matter is significantly different from this (thank god!) without dismissing the idea that Cambodians continue to experience real, ongoing trauma from the Khmer Rouge era. Note that his one concrete examples deals with a sort of refusal of (or to socialize) memory rather than its incorporation or experience. He also has an interesting sounding book coming out this year which claims to critique the discourse of trauma, something which desperately needs to be done, and which I have attempted to do several times in the past few years. Can’t wait for part two…

Richard Rechtman © John Vink / Magnum

Phnom Penh (Cambodia) February 5th 2009: Richard Rechtman, psychiatrist, and Soko Phay Vakalis at the Bophana Center workshop for visual artists.

Richard Rechtman never imagined he would be spending so much time working with Cambodian refugees living in France. The psychiatrist, who also happens to be an anthropologist, is medical director of the Institut Marcel Rivière, a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Research Institute on Social Issues (IRIS) Institute of the EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in Paris and editor-in-chief of the French magazine l’Évolution Psychiatrique. Since 1986, he has been listening to, healing, curing and leading researches on the Cambodian diaspora living on the French territory, a community now composed of some 40,000 beings. He set foot for the first time on the Cambodian territory after accepting an invitation to work on creation workshops organised in Phnom Penh by the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Centre. In a two-part interview by Ka-set, he goes back over his experience and career, his approach as a professional and man with a cause as well as his views and theories.

via Ka-set – Information website about Cambodia – Interview with Richard Rechtman (1/2): “Cambodian refugees overwhelmed by their dead”.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s