Sounding Cambodia for June 17, 2011

Limited engagement here, as my energies are being absorbed elsewhere. Here are some links regarding Cambodia that you should read.

  • Ang Choulean awarded Fukuoka Prize!
  • Mass Faintings at Factories
  • Primitive accumulation and National Forest Reserve given to Rubber Plantation company
  • Violent Land Evictions in Kompong Speu
  • Angelina Jolie photo
  • Bamboo Trains!

The great, fantastic, brilliant Cambodian ethnographer Ang Choulean has been awarded a Fukuoka prize, [about the prize] joining the ranks of such other luminaries of Asian studies, such as James Scott, Ashis Nandy, and Partha Chatterjee.  Congratulations, Lokkru Choulean – you deserve it.

Labor stories from Cambodia include the almost paradigmatic mass faintings in a factory.  In my interview with Ath Thorn (page 11), president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers Union (C.CAWDU) this last January, Thorn expressed a belief that, contrary to many rumors, these mass faintings are the result of malnutrition, overwork, and fear (hence the waves of faintings, once one person starts to go).   Common rumors include the idea that factory owners are medicating their workers’ water supplies with amphetamines, etc.
My interest in primitive accumulation in contemporary Cambodia is proving ever more timely. New articles soon to be published by ethnographer Ian Baird of the University of Wisconsin also engage this issue.  Meanwhile, protected forest land in a national reserve near Preah Vihear has been given to an agrobusiness to set up a rubber plantation, land evictions are getting increasingly violent – especially in Kompong Speu province, which has always been on the edge, agriculturally speaking, and is therefore – along with highland forested areas – one of the first areas to be enclosed and ‘accumulated.’ Click through to the article, and lots of photos.
Or, you could just watch this video of the eviction, from RFA:
There is some happier news – or at least, not unhappy news.  Cambodians tend to love Angelina Jolie – she’s made a home in Western Cambodia and advocated for its causes.  Some people have concerns about her adoption of Maddox, and there have been accusations of mismanagement of her NGO, but on the whole, she’s deeply respected.  And, Annie Leibowitz, the famed photographer, snapped this image of her for Louis Vuitton.  She’s supposed to have been paid $10 million dollars for the photo, which was taken in Siem Reap province, and a ‘substantial portion’ is supposed to be given to charity.
Also – Bamboo Trains.

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