Between 1975 and 1979, under the rule of the Khmer Rouge, it is estimated that 1.7 million Cambodians died as a result of execution, starvation, and forced labor, constituting roughly 21 to 25 percent of the extant population. Now in 2012, this history of genocide—commonly referred to as the period of “The Killing Fields” for those outside Cambodia—remains contested and unresolved. Despite the formation of a U.N./War Crimes Tribunal and the indictment of five Khmer Rouge leaders, only one person has been sentenced for crimes against humanity. Hence, though more than thirty years has passed since the deposal of the Khmer Rouge from power, justice has yet to be served in an international court. The legacy of the genocide, the absence of state-sanctioned justice, and the memory of “the Killing Fields” are primary reference points for this talk, which examines the ways in which Cambodian American cultural production is rooted in political and politicized projects of genocidal remembrance.
About the speaker: Cathy J. Schlund-Vials is Associate Professor in English and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs). She is currently the Director for the UConn Asian American Studies Institute and is the author of two monographs: Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing (Temple University Press, 2011) and War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).