If you read the previous post about the discussion I had with David Chandler, recorded in November 2018 but not released until now, you might have a slight idea to why the episode itself sounds a little disjointed. I went there expecting to have a 45 minute ‘interview’, which turned into an almost two hour ‘chat’, where I was able to ask him about all the little things that I cared about but would not really be suitable for an audience who basically might not have a clue about what we were talking about. The 'interview part' started half-way though the chat, so some stuff had to be repeated, other stuff had to get put back... I think the final edit flows 'ok' though.
I had been reading and writing and thinking only about Khmer Rouge for the last year or so because of my thesis and to be able to just … ‘shoot the shit’ or ‘talk shop’ with someone that not only knew what I was talking about but more or less taught me how to think about what I was talking about was … well it was an honour and something of a redemptive moment for me as I had walked away from studying while David was my undergrad thesis advisor when I was 21.
As for the content of the interview itself… well it had to be chopped and swapped around a little to make up for the fact that my recording just kind of started mid-way through a discussion of Michael Vickery. I didn’t end up including this in the final cut, as well as some other comments about other scholars, because I wasn’t exactly expecting them to be part of the original ‘talking points’, nor did it strike me as particularly interesting for those who aren’t aware of the general ‘history wars’ that went on between some of the historians who wrote about Cambodia/DK.
While this part of the chat included a few other historians outside of the recorded interview, it was fascinating to hear how these fractures occurred in this community.
What I did include were the aspects of these fractures that related to the Chams and Vietnamese. As the ECCC was so close to handing down their verdict on the genocide of these groups I thought that David's ideas on the matter - even if it meant outwardly dismissing other scholar's claims - should stay in the final cut, as it was what we had predominantly agreed to talking about in correspondence before the interview and to what David had been recently writing.
Having recently finished my thesis comparing the treatment of the Chams to that of the Rohingya in Myanmar it was a little deflating to hear that he thought the Muslim minority in Cambodia were not subjected to 'genocide' (as defined in the UN definition), but I had come around to this opinion to a large extent toward the end of my own study. I think the argument can be made that they were swept away in trucks and murdered, in large groups as well, contrary to what David claimed in the interview. Tens of thousands died, but again -- roughly in similar proportions to the wider Khmer population.
Anyway, I had a great time talking with David and I hope I can get some other high profile historians outside of the Chandler family to come on the podcast in the future.
Sorry it took me so long to release the episode as well…