4 March 2017
Week 9 Blog
One of Cathy J. Schlund-Vials’ focuses in War, Genocide, and Justice is the misrepresentation of the atrocities in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Often, these skewed conveyances are indirectly caused by the renewed missions of various memorials and tributes, as they somehow discredit the actual atrocities that took place.
For example, Schlund-Vial believes that in remembering “genocidal crimes” in the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum comes the “restaging and reimaging [of] Khmer Rouge atrocitizes.” (Schlund-Vial 40). She sees a disconnection between a hanging scaffold and its placard. In other words, the placard cannot encapsulate the grief and terror that the scaffold represents for victims. Likewise, pictures of prisoners showcased in the museum are often of the victim’s booking—in essence, before any actual harm was done.
Additionally, Schlund-Vial underscores the debilitating consequences of heavy tourism in Cambodia. In her depiction of a tour of Angkor Wat, an icon of Khmer civilization, is the idea of “dark tourism”, a recurring “presentation and consumption of visitors [for] real and commodified death and disaster sites.” (Schlund-Vial 63) She believes that, even in a place meant to honor culture is a need for the government to displace guilt especially to American tourists. In fact, Angkor Wat is a prominent fixture for Cambodian nationalism. This is all to say that the U.S. continues to have influence over how Cambodia should illustrate their histories.
Somehow, this is also seen in rapper praCH’s compulsion to rap about the “killing fields” of Cambodia, for the U.S. shaped the stagnation and stratifications of ethnicities into “ghettos” and ethnic enclaves and spawned the voices of Ice T and N.W.A for praCH.
Question: Is Schlund-Vial correct in asserting that the Cambodia wants to commodify the tragedies of the Khmer Rouge?
Vendors at Angkor Wat
Schlund-Vials, Cathy Jean. War, Genocide, and Justice Cambodian American Memory Work. Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota, 2012. Print.