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! Continue reading
The end of the semester got away from me folks, which means that today’s Sounding Cambodia will consist of a lot of links, videos, and topics, with minimal commentary. Lots of important stuff in there, though. Go read!
- Sand mountains during Khmer New Year (Video)
- Cash pledges from politicians – exactly what is going on?
- Violence against Cambodian Labor by the government
- Interviews with Rich Garella of Who Killed Chea Vichea?
- Nuon Chea and Cases 002 and 003 in the Extraordinary Chambers/Khmer Rouge Tribunal
- Would you like some Borax with your Cambodian food? Formalin? You’re welcome.
- Tiny Toones NGO – “Hey Babe” video.
- Cambodian Rice Exports to the Philippines
- Judy Ledgerwood’s awesome Summer ethnography school in Cambodia
- Damned Dams and their impacts on damned-near everything; an article in Critical Asian Studies by Ian Baird
- Book Review of Constance Wilson’s edited volume on the Middle Mekong River Basin
- Thai Politics – an election primer from Duncan McCargo
I’m sweating the beginning of the new semester, as I am teaching three classes (two large intro classes and a seminar), and trying to finish up three articles, among other things. Still, the enormous labor action that took place over the last week in Cambodia needs to be noted, though at this moment I have little to add in the way of analysis or interpretation. Please discuss in the comments.
Anne Elizabeth Moore’s article, “Garment Strike in Phnom Penh reaches Critical Mass: Will Adidas, Gap, and Puma Pay Workers a Living Wage?“, is one of the best summaries of the situation out there currently. Her other work in and on Cambodia is also excellent.
The labor actions have involved, and frequently ended, in violence with police, as the latter attempt to restrain the former.
So many things have been going on since I took an extended vacation from blogging, but here are some of the Cambodian stories I’ve been following and wondering about:
- Rape on the Rise: The incidence of sexual violence appears to continue its meteoric rise in reporting; it seems that it is not only reporting on the rise, however – an entire culture of rape among urban elite males appears to increasingly be copied by immiserated peasants and connected thugs alike, nation-wide.
- Remember the Mekong, whose name, “Mother Ganges,” identifies it with another world-historic river-system also under attack? Yeah, so do a lot of other people, who saw it dry up this last dry season. Unfortunately the people who care are not the people making the decisions. If you’re curious about one of the upstream dams likely related to this current, ongoing catastrophe, read the discussion over at New Mandala on the Xiaowan Dam, where most of the real science is being discussed in an informal way.
- I’m thoroughly unsurprised that Cambodian officials prohibited a screening of the new film, Who Killed Chea Vichea? While I have yet to see this film, the title alone is enough to make the Cambodian judiciary and elites pissed off, for it points out that no credible suspects have yet been found. Meanwhile, on May Day, approximately 7,000 workers took to the streets of Phnom Penh.
- But I am surprised at some of the news out of the union movement in Cambodia lately. Rong Chhun appears to have been slowly sucked into the role of political opponent rather than labor dissident, and has been making a fuss over border posts lately, instead of issues of workers’ rights. That’s unfortunate, because Chhun has the capacity to be a leader of genuine change. The appeal of political diversions is greatest when workers’ advocacy and organization is weakest, or when individuals begin to burn out, but I hope he returns to the issues at the core of the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association soon.
- Meanwhile, I was grieved to hear that FTUWKC leader Chea Mony was to resign his position as president of the union due to health (pulmonary) problems. The stress of that job must be killing him. But then, news suddenly that he’s been re-elected as president, followed immediately by a call to collect money to pay Mu Sochua’s recent fines. I’m very confused as to what is happening here, but I find the renewal of political party ties unfortunate, because I would hate to see the independent union movement co-opted by the political ambitions of individuals within any party.
- Meanwhile, although Rice exporters are increasing the scope of their ambition (Europe’s markets), the current drought is causing worry about the harvest.
- Go read about the catastrophe that was Bangkok a few months back somewhere; it’s important stuff, though I don’t have time to discuss it here. On the other hand, even though 80% of migrant workers in Thailand are from Burma, post-catastrophe raids have been primarily rounding up Cambodians (10% of the migrant worker population in Thailand).
- Slavery. flipping hell, can’t we end this now? Apparently not; there are more people enslaved today than at any previous point in history.
Macalester Economics department Professor Raymond Robertson speaks on the Macalester Talks podcast series, about his work with the International Labor Organization (ILO) project in Cambodia, called Better Factories Cambodia. Long-time readers (yes, I’m talking to both of you) realize that I have a long-standing interest in Cambodian economy and labor.
Most Recent Podcast Episode
Professor Raymond Robertson, economics, talks about his work with Better Factories Cambodia. Many factories in developing worlds have poor working standards. The program has enlisted many large scale retailers in their efforts.
listen | subscribe in iTunes | visit podcast archive
I feel pretty good, but have no voice whatsoever. So, since I have four and a half hours of class to teach today, I’ve spent the morning typing out my introduction to Victor Turner for my class on Ritual. We’ve spent most of the first three weeks discussing Durkheim’s Elementary Forms and van Gennep’s Rites of Passage, but the students have not been given formal introductions to Marx or Weber in this class (though they’ve likely encountered them elsewhere).
The reason I’m really posting this here, though, is that I’d like to submit these notes to the collective wisdom of both of my readers. Anything in here you’d care to quibble about? Let me know!
RITUAL – Introducing Victor Turner
Erik W. Davis
In many ways, Turner sets the stage for contemporary interventions in the anthropological theory and study of ritual. He combines in his person and scholarship a lot of the concerns from conflicting and previously unassociated theoretical approaches: Marxism, Durkheim, and Van Gennep.
Durkheim and His Competitor Trains of Thought
Recall that Durkheim is considered one of the three major founders of Social thought (inclusive of both Anthropology and Sociology), along with Karl Marx and Max Weber. Each of these founders has a distinctive approach to key problems: the nature of the social division of labor, the relationship of economic and social organization to ideology and religion, ‘modernity,’ and the role of institutions in social life.
Each of them were confronted by an apparently radically novel social situation – capitalism – which seemed to break definitively from all previous forms of traditional society. It is difficult to overemphasize the extent to which all three of these thinkers, regardless of their differences, saw the contemporary modern period as a period of profound social flux and change. All of them also tied these changes to capitalism, the new division of labor in society into classes, and the role of religion. Summarizing any of these individual’s thought does violence to their subtlety. However, schematically, we can characterize them in the following ways: