ASA 150E – SEAA Issues
4 March 2017
Week 9: Post War Criticism and the Viet Nam Syndrome as Praxis
War, Genocide, and Justice by Cathy J. Schlund-Vials focused on both “collected and collective memorialization.” War, Genocide, and Justice investigate into how Cambodian American cultural producers such as filmmaker, writer, hip-hop artists, and performance artists labor to rearticulate and reimagine the Killing Fields era. War, Genocide, and Justice engage the collected memory of the Killing Fields era and the legacy of Democratic Kampuchean authoritarianism for in-country Khmers and diasporic Cambodians. Artists such as Socheata Poeuv, Loung Ung, Chanrithy Him, Prach Ly, and Anida Yoeu Ali confront historical amnesia in origin sites such as Cambodia or a nearby refugee camp (4). These artists undermine forgetting in their country of settlement in the U.S. and use productions as an alternative mode for and practices of justice. Cambodian American writers and artists generate cultural forms of genocidal remembrance from diasporic dislocation and transnational reimagination. In other words, these artists are fighting to remember the past and preserve their memory of the past into the next generation. Cambodian American writers and artists are preserving their memory and history that are often suppressed, silenced, or disregarded by the majority/dominant narratives. What I find interesting was that even more than 30 years since Democratic Kampuchea’s dissolution, only one Khmer Rouge official has been tried and convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in an international court of law. I was surprised to learn of the destructive and heinous policies of the Khmer Rouge who targeted Muslim Cambodians (the Cham) and the Vietnamese Cambodians. I was also surprised that the Khmer Rouge members still occupy positions of governmental power. [Question:] Where are the justices and why are the Khmer Rouge member are given pardon for their atrocious crimes? Furthermore, there was omission in Chea Sim’s [current Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) chairman and longtime politician] address, which makes no mention of UN/ Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal. The UN/ Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal is where the court tries the most that are responsible members of the Khmer Rouge for violations of international law and crimes perpetrated during the Cambodian genocide.
We see this happening where artists, writers, and filmmakers are using alternative production of modes for and practices of justice through social media, novels, and movies. By using film, music, writing, and spoken word, they are rearticulated their history. We can see this in examples in Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer and Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, Tui Bui illustrated memoir’s The Best We Could Do, and GB Tran’s Vietamerica: A Family’s Journey. These books/novel fills in the gaps of time and distance with imagination. In a way, these are resistance by way of the contested memory that highlights the political objective and with contemporary Vietnamese American memory work.
|Socheata and her father Nin Pouev, from The New Year Baby (2006) film|
Cathy J. Schlund-Vials. “Eating Welfare.” 2001. Eric Tang and the Youth Leadership Project” and “Prach Ly.”War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work. 2012.
Introduction: Battling the “Cambodian Syndrome”