Alright. The new episode is coming together nicely, just thought I would start updating the blog with this kind of content to assure people the show is progressing. I’d say, just in regards to my own circumstances, I am going to perhaps start a teaching role in a high school toward the end of this year and I am already worrying about the impact that doing a masters/being a full-time teacher might have on the podcast… but we will come to that when we come to that!
Anyway, for now I think I have sketched out the next episode pretty well. We are going to start just with the general low-down on what happened right after the French protectorate was established. What did this period look like? What happened? What were the French hoping to get out of this arrangement? Etc.
Then we are finally going to move into the 20th century proper. The flaws in some elements of French control, as well as the tightening of this control – from ‘protectorate’ to ‘colony’. Most texts speak about the period from 1916-1925 as one of basic peace and conformity to the colonial presence in Cambodia (although other events in Southeast Asia will differ) but I will take that opportunity in this historical ‘lull’ to settle down for a moment and just talk about Cambodian culture, particularly life in the rural areas. I will use May Ebihara’s fantastic study ‘Svay: a Khmer village in Cambodia’ to base this information on (yes I know she wrote it in the 60s but there was not much change between the 20’s and 60’s). This will give us a much needed look at the actual ‘people’ of Cambodia again as they have been left out of most texts from antiquity onward and the show has mostly detailed the role of kings and ‘big history’. Another important aspect of talking about this element of Cambodia is the eventual role of the ‘peasantry’ or at least an idealised view of this ‘rural’ lifestyle that will become a hugely important facet of Khmer Rouge ideology. The distinction between ‘old people’ and ‘new people’ after 1975 is fundamental to a study of the Khmer Rouge revolution, and being able to distinguish between the basics of these two groups beyond just ‘those who lived in the city and those who lived in the country’ is something I really want people to be able to get out of the show. The ‘agrarian’ aspect of the Khmer Rouge revolution is often referenced, but I feel that an actual understanding of what ‘agrarian’ life in Cambodia looked like is less understood and not often explained.
Once the sojourn in the village is over we will return to the city and the big themes once again. Nationalism is back and the metaphor for burning coal will be back too. The first flames of nationalism in Cambodia will be discussed as the 1930s approach the second world war – which is where this episode will end. Communism will be mentioned ever so briefly as the Vietnamese workers party extends to the ‘Indochinese’ one, but a full discussion of communism, and the long beginnings of the Cold War will be explained in the next episode when we talk about WWII, independence movements across Southeast Asia and how the post-second world war period will be the framework for the rest of the series.
I will make use of the other metaphor I’ve brought up a couple of times ‘the hurricane’. This episode will very much be about the ‘warm, moist air systems’ coming from Cambodia rather than the ‘cold, dry air’ coming from foreign lands and big historical themes. The next episode, about the cold war – that will be (pardon the pun) much more focused on these ‘cold winds’.
Look out for this one probably in November.
And if you are here reading this, first of all thank you for being interested enough to come all the way here and have a read – second, if you’ve come this far why not leave a review on itunes or castbox or stitcher? They really make my day. Also if you’ve got twitter why don’t you pop a follow there as well – I don’t post often but you’ll stay in the loop and sometimes I drop some fun examples of sources I’ve collected over the years.
Thanks for getting involved and listening to the show,
all the best
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