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Cambodia Scholar Workshop + Screening of 'A Cambodian Spring'

  • Room 170, Queen's Building, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London Egham Hill Egham, England, TW20 0EX United Kingdom (map)

In this workshop we bring together academic researchers who are undertaking research on Cambodia. Our aims for the day are to facilitate rapid learning about this work; provide  space for discussion at a critical time in Cambodian politics; and foster a community of scholars for future advice, support, and collaboration.

The day-long workshop will conclude with a screening of the award-winning film A Cambodian Spring and a Q & A with its director Chris Kelly (5.30-8pm in the Windsor Auditorium). We are honoured that the Venerable Luon Sovath will also be joining us for the event and film Q & A.


Shot over six years, A Cambodian Spring is an intimate portrait of three people caught up in the chaotic and aggressive sweep of forced evictions and land grabbing in the name of “economic progress”. Two fearless women, children in tow, take charge and lead the growing movement in their community, repeatedly facing imprisonment and violence. Buddhist monk and award-winning activist Venerable Loun Sovath is harassed, censored, and evicted by his own religious leaders when he becomes a key figure in the land-rights protests that led up to the “Cambodian Spring” beginning in 2013. The film charts the complexities, both political and personal, of fighting for what you believe, asking the audience: how much would you be willing to sacrifice? 

Special Jury Prize for International Feature Documentary, Hot Docs 2017


The event is organised by the ESRC-DFID funded Blood Bricks project team and the Geopolitics, Development, Security and Justice Research Group (GDSJ) in the Department of Geography. It is home to a strong cohort of Cambodia-focused researchers including two PhD students (Naomi Graham and Will Jamieson), two postdoctoral fellows (Laurie Parsons and Sabina Lawreniuk), and a professor (Katherine Brickell). The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia (Routledge, 2017) also arises from a co-editor and other contributors from the department.

Given the aims of the event, presentations will be given using PechaKucha. This is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (so a maximum of 6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The images advance automatically and you talk along to the images. More info can be found here.

The programme is as follows:

9 – 9.30am: Arrival and Registration

9.30 – 10am: Welcome and Introduction to the Blood Bricks project, Katherine Brickell and Laurie Parsons

10 – 11am: Panel one: Nationality, Democracy, Education, and Refuge

Charlie Rumsby, ‘Modes of belonging among children with undetermined nationality. The Cambodian case.’

Marc Pinol, ‘Social Media and Democracy in Cambodia: Challenges and Opportunities’

Elizabeth King, ‘Developing teacher capacity in Cambodia’

Naomi Graham, ‘Sheltering from Violence: Women’s Experiences of Safe Shelters in Cambodia’

11 – 11.30pm: Coffee break

11.30 – 12.30pm: Panel two: Faith, Art, Music, and Politics

Fohn Frame, ‘How Religious Faith is Conceived as Benefiting Clients in Christian Anti-Trafficking Faith-Based NGOs in Cambodia’

Francesca Billeri, ‘The Process of Re-Construction and Revival of Musical Heritage in Contemporary Cambodia’

Joanna Wolfarth, ‘‘Faces of Cambodia: Portraits, Power and Memory'

Amanda Rogers, ‘Post-conflict Performance in Cambodia: nationality, identity and geopolitics.’

12.30 – 2pm: Lunch (provided by hosts)

2 – 3pm: Panel three: Commodity Histories, Chains, Geopolitics and Policies

Ernest Caldwell, ‘Fur, Feathers, Scales and Ivory: Cambodian Wildlife Protection Legislation in International and Regional Perspective’

Magali Berthon, ‘Silk in Contemporary Cambodia: Weaving a History of Survival (1990-2017)’

Sabina Lawreniuk, ‘Intimate geopolitics of garment work and labour activism in Cambodia’

Will Jamieson, ‘Country For Sale by the Tonne: Charting the commodity chain of contagious sovereignty from Cambodia to Singapore’

3-3.30pm: Coffee break

3.30-4pm: Concluding discussion with the Venerable Loun Sovath

4pm-5.15 Free time

5.30pm: Screening of ‘A Cambodian Spring’, followed by Q and A with Venerable Loun Sovath and filmmaker Chris Kelly

8pm: Optional drinks and dinner in Egham Town Centre (venue TBC)

Helpful resources

Walking map Egham Train Station - workshop venue (20 minutes)

RHUL Campus Map

RHUL Campus accommodation