Category Archives: History

Urbex Cambodia

Good stuff: Facebook Page

“Urbex or UE (Urban Exploration in full) is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities. However, Urbex-Cambodia also includes inhabited old buildings due to difficulties in accessing off-limited areas. The page is now run by Chea Phal, Chhim Chanvannak and Suon Sopheaktra.”


Strolling Around a Disappearing Gem


Friday, 15 June 2012 Sean Gleeson

The Sporting Club, a popular retreat for Protectorate officials, in a dilapidated state in 1993. It was later demolished and replaced, according to Filippi, by “a most inelegant set of structures”. Photograph: supplied

Jean-Michel Filippi’s passion for Cambodia’s architectural golden age is tempered only by his restrained frustration at its rapid erasure.

Author of the new book Strolling Around Phnom Penh, a walking tour of 150 years of local history, Filippi sees a lot to lament in the city’s changing urban character.

In the 1960s, newly independent Cambodia led the region in the pursuit of an audacious vision for its capital. Abdicating from the throne to lead the country’s post-colonial government, Norodom Sihanouk commissioned a number of bold works from French-trained Cambodian architects.

The great edifices of that time were aimed at propelling Phnom Penh firmly into modernity after nearly a century of colonial presence: the National Theatre, sprawling education campuses and low-income apartments by the banks of the Bassac River.

Each was a masterpiece of architectural innovation, relying on a balance of natural ventilation, climactically suited construction materials and aesthetic grandeur.

“In the ’60s, all those architects were remarkable because it was the only modern architecture that was both functional and beautiful in all of Southeast Asia,” Filippi says.

Drawing inspiration from the brutalist trends in Europe, the most striking feature of development at this time was the fetishised use of concrete in almost every major building project.

At one time, the renowned architect Vann Molyvann was accosted by a student, expressing amazement that the recently constructed concrete bridges to Koh Pich were left unpainted. Vann’s imperious reply was that an architect should not be ashamed of the material they use.

“Concrete was an ideology of the ’60s everywhere in the Western world. Concrete was no more something ugly. All of a sudden concrete was not only seen to be beautiful but also a symbol of modernity. It meant that you had no need to paint it – in fact it became absurd to paint concrete,” Filippi says.

Evidence of this ambitious vision’s decay is nowhere more apparent than in the infamous White Building on Sothearos Boulevard, originally constructed to provide low-cost housing for civil servants and now a rundown haven of poverty and vice.

One of a dwindling number of buildings left over from the period, it is widely assumed to be slated for the same process of eviction and demolition as some of its former neighbours. Even without such an intervention, decades of neglect could see the building collapse on its own at some time within the next decade.

Filippi’s greatest sorrow is the lack of appreciation for the legacy of the pre-war era, particularly the unwillingness to temper development with an appropriate use of space. In his book, Filippi cites the construction of Naga Casino next to the Buddhist Institute as the development boom’s most obscene consequence.

“I believe in the aesthetic. I’m the kind of person who believes that in order to create a regime, a new life, a new vision of politics, you need to act on town planning and architecture. This is absolutely fundamental,” he explains.

Contrary to expectation, Filippi does not blame the anti-urban policies of the Khmer Rouge, but the upheaval caused by the arrival of the United Nations in Phnom Penh after the Paris Peace Accords.

“You can very well use the metaphor of national theatre. It wasn’t killed by the Khmer Rouge period. Obviously, the Khmer Rouge didn’t help that, but it still existed. What happened in 1992 was very simple: all of a sudden, they gave up. I have the impression that at the time, when you had that fantastic rain of US dollars on the country, people began to equate being Khmer with poverty, and what was coming from outside was prosperous.”

The story of development in the last 20 years has been the utter rejection of the city’s past innovation, in favour of modern developments indistinguishable from the other metropolises of the world. While the trained eye can still follow the city’s history from 1865 to the present, the opportunity diminishes with each new monolithic, glass-plated addition to the skyline.

When considering the prospects of a belated appreciation for Phnom Penh’s unique style, Filippi is less than sanguine.

“If we consider the notion of patrimony, this doesn’t exist in Cambodia,” he rues. “Not yet. There is a kind of complex in Cambodia about being too far behind, what they want is of course to look like the others. At the same time they will tell you here that old is not beautiful. To preserve what is old in some sense is seen as a kind of mistake, so to be modern is to build a tower – nothing looks more modern than that – at any price.”

Help With The Phnom Penh Map Hunt?

If you are aware of other available maps then please e-mail me with the location, source or image file. 

This is a document containing all of the historic and contemporary print maps of Phnom Penh I’ve found during my research.

Mapping Phnom Penh

The goal is to expedite future research by streamlining access to these maps.

Once sourced, I will create a summary PDF containing all of the maps and referencing the available digital images on the Phnom Penh Spatial Dropbox (which also contains digital mapping resources: GIS and DWG).

I’m sharing in good faith – therefore please do not yet print or distribute – I’ll post everything I’ve found once it is revised.



Historical Maps of Phnom Penh

A nice collection. I’ve posted everything but the 1922 plan here at some point. Always nice to find something new.


Historical Maps of Phnom Penh

Aerial Photo Phnom Penh

Aerial Photo Around Central Market, 1943

These images are from a report entitled “Phnom Penh développement urbain et patrimoine” or “Phnom Penh, Urban Development and Heritage”.

Phnom Penh Urban Expansion Map

Urban Expansion 1958 to 1968

Phnom Penh Urban Plan Map, Undated

Phnom Penh Urban Expansion 1890 to 1958

Phnom Penh Urban Expansion 1890 to 1994 cont..

Urban Plan 1903

Urban Plan 1922

Urban Plan 1937Plan des casiers, 1930

Phnom Penh ‘Urban Heritage’ Map

Source: Scanned from this book. Original information from BAU 1996. Came to me via the Phnom Penh Mapping Meet Up

Unsure how they determined the distinction between sites. Should go see how many of these are still there. Photo project to be continued…

Exceptional Building

Very Remarkable Building

Remarkable Building

Exceptional Site

Site to Upgrade (Rehabilitate?)

Parcel (Site?) of Concern

National Security Assessment: Water Scarcity Disrupting U.S. and Three Continents

National Security Assessment: Water Scarcity Disrupting U.S. and Three Continents

TUESDAY, 03 APRIL 2012 13:04

In a new report, the U.S. State Department finds a global confrontation between growing water demand and shrinking supplies, in addition to predictions for the next 30 years of water security.

U.S. State Department Secretary of State Hillary Clinton World Water Day Circle of Blue

On World Water Day, March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced a new State Department report on the world’s water crisis. Fourteen of Circle of Blue’s photographs were featured at the State Department event. Click the image to launch slideshow.

By Brett Walton
Circle of Blue

The world’s demand for fresh water is growing so fast that, by 2030, agriculture, industry, and expanding cities on three continents will face such scarce supplies that the confrontation could disrupt economic development and cause ruinous political instability, according to the first U.S. cabinet-level report on the global water crisis.

The report, “Global Water Security,” prepared for the State Department by the National Intelligence Council, found that, unless there are serious changes in conservation and water use practices, global water demand will reach 6,900 billion cubic meters (1,800 trillion gallons) annually by 2030, a figure that is about 2,400 billion cubic meters (634 trillion gallons) higher than today. The authors of the report concluded that level of consumption is “40 percent above current sustainable water supplies,” and will “hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, posing a risk to global food markets and hobbling economic growth.”

In other words, this would be the equivalent of adding four Chinas over the next 18 years,since China currently uses around 600 billion cubic meters (158 trillion gallons) of water annually.

2006 – After a bureaucratic consolidation, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is created. Each year, the director is required to report to Congress on America’s chief national security threats. In this first assessment, neither water nor climate nor food is mentioned. The report mentions the environment only in relation to Chinese domestic political stability.
2007 – There is no reference to water, climate, or food, but the environment is again mentioned in relation to Chinese domestic political stability.
2008 – Because of price spikes this year, a section of the report is dedicated to food security. This is also the first reference to water, as a factor in food production. Climate change is not mentioned.
2009 – The first report from the Obama administration. Four pages are dedicated to environmental security. Climate change, food, water, and global health are discussed.
2010 – There is a section on the regional effects of climate change. Water is discussed in the section on climate change and in the analysis of individual countries.
2011 – For the first time, there is a separate section on water scarcity, chiefly regarding the potential for conflict in shared river basins. Food is mentioned in several country assessments — Cuba, North Korea, Pakistan, Venezuela — but it is no longer pulled out for special attention.
2012 – This report has the most comprehensive analysis of water security, but climate change is no longer mentioned. Water is one of many factors that could contribute to state failure. Groundwater depletion could affect food production, and water scarcity could diminish hydroelectric generation, hurting national economic performance. Better management, more investment, and the use of water-efficient technology are listed as potential solutions.

These and other findings about global water supply were made public on World Water Day, March 22, by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who called the study “a landmark document that puts water security in its rightful place as part of national security.”

“It’s not only about water,” she added. “It is about security, peace, and prosperity.”

But those goals are imperiled, according to the report, by the collision of two powerful global trends. The first is what the report called “key drivers of rising freshwater demand” — population growth, expanding cities, rising energy demand and production. The second is declining supply caused by deforestation; pollution; leaks and waste; and climate change that is melting glaciers, speeding evaporation, deepening droughts, and increasing the number of extreme weather events.

In remarks at the World Water Day event in Washington, D.C., Clinton introduced a new government initiative to improve global water management and conservation, steps that the report’s authors repeatedly called for in the study. The U.S. Water Partnership, she said, brings together 28 organizations — including government agencies, philanthropic foundations, environmental groups, corporations, and universities — and their body of water knowledge, which will be spread globally through training sessions, web-based data libraries, and collaborations with any organization looking for solutions.

“You can’t work on water as a health concern independently from water as an agricultural concern,” Clinton said. “And water that is needed for agriculture may also be water that is needed for energy production. So we need to be looking for interventions that work on multiple levels simultaneously and help us focus on systemic responses.”

What The Report Says
The Global Water Security report confirms much of the data about the severity of the world water crisis, as well as many of the conclusions about how to solve it that have been developed by research groups, by other lower level U.S. government offices, and by news organizations — among them Circle of Blue, whose photographs of the crisis from around the world were featured at the State Department event.

Delhi India water views anita khemka pollution supply

Photos © 2009 Anita Khemka/Photoink/Contact Press Images for Circle of Blue
Women and children wait for a trickle to fill their buckets with water in a slum area in Delhi, India. In some parts of the city, tap water — often salty, yellow, and smelly — only comes between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m. From “WaterViews: India” package.em>Click the image to launch slideshow.

But, in conducting the first cabinet-level assessment and in personally announcing the results, Secretary Clinton continued the work she has undertaken since joining the Obama administration to elevate the threats to the water supply to an urgent national and diplomatic priority.

The United States itself is certain to be buffeted by the water crisis, according to the report, which cites extensive research on food and energy production, groundwater abuse, and trade economics, as well as studies on international conflict and water management practices. For instance, achieving U.S. foreign policy goals could be more difficult, since nations may be too “distracted” by domestic problems to work with other nations. Additionally, there are risks of instability, increased regional tensions, and perhaps even state failure in nations that are important to U.S. national security interests. Water shortages could inflame pre-existing social and political tensions; they could cause disease outbreaks; and they could threaten food security, energy production, and the stability of local economies.

“Water shortages, poor water quality, and floods by themselves are unlikely to result in state failure,” the report says. “However, water problems — when combined with poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership, and weak political institutions — contribute to social disruptions that can result in state failure.”

Strategically Important Basins
In a companion classified report for the State Department, the National Intelligence Council assessed the national security implications from these river basins: Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya.

The report names Southern Africa, northeastern Brazil, eastern Australia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the Western U.S. as places where climate change will decrease the amount of freshwater. North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia face the most difficult water challenges due to demographic and economic development pressures.

Such conditions will likely not be the direct cause of violent conflicts during the next 10 years, the authors argue, because, “historically, water tensions have led to more water-sharing agreements than violent conflicts.” Still, the authors of the report state that, beyond the next 10 years, they expect water to be used increasingly as leverage between countries that share a river basin, or even used as a weapon. Further, the report notes that water delivery systems — dams, desalination plants, pipelines, and canals — are a potential target for terrorists.

Ever since the disintegration of the Soviet Union more than two decades ago, these concerns about government instability, or even collapse, have formed a significant chunk of the academic research on environmental security. The new National Intelligence Council report — and related government programs begun in the last few years — shows that leaders in the nation’s capital have grown more comfortable with the need to address non-traditional, more oblique security threats.

The report gives good news, as well, stating that there are preventative actions that can be taken, with many of the technologies available now.

“From now through 2040, improved water management (e.g. pricing, allocations, and “virtual water” trade) and investments in water-related sectors (e.g. agriculture, power, and water treatment) will afford the best solutions for water problems,” the report says. “Because agriculture uses approximately 70 percent of the global freshwater supply, the greatest potential for relief from water scarcity will be through technology that reduces the amount of water needed for agriculture.”

A Short History of Water in U.S. Government Reports 
One of the first U.S. government reports to address water in relation to national security was in 2000, with the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2015 Survey,” which sought to identify the strategic undercurrents that would shape U.S. policy.

Qibudi China Yunnan Province karst water j. carl ganter farm

Photo © 2011 J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue
A farmer outside Qibudi in China’s Yunnan Province surveys his field. Although it has been raining for days, the same field, where karst stone is beginning to poke through the topsoil, turns dry for eight months of the year. He carries household water three times daily from a hillside pond. He and his elderly father make due on six buckets of water each day. From “Hidden Waters, Dragons in the Deep” of China’s Karst regions. em>Click the image to launch slideshow.

A more rigorous assessment came five years later, with a 134-page report on water from the Center for Strategic and International Studies and Sandia National Laboratories. The “Global Water Futures report” argued that water was a blanket force: “Virtually every major U.S. foreign policy objective — promoting stability and security, reducing extremist violence, democracy building, post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction, poverty reduction, meeting the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, combating HIV/AIDS, promoting bilateral and multilateral relationships — will be contingent to some extent on how well the challenge of global water can be addressed.”

The report criticized where the U.S. government spent its foreign aid dollars for fresh water. Using data from the Government Accountability Office, it showed that aid was concentrated in war zones (Iraq and Afghanistan) and in the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, Gaza, and the West Bank). In 2004, only 3 percent of USAID money went to countries in Africa.

Since “Global Water Futures,” however, circumstances have flipped.

Later that year, President George W. Bush signed the Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act, which made water and sanitation foreign policy priorities. As a result, the geographic distribution of water aid has changed. In fiscal year 2010, some 41 percent of the U.S. government’s water-related investments were made in sub-Saharan Africa.

Then in September 2010, President Barack Obama signed the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, which established programs for climate change, food security, and public health, putting these programs at the core of American foreign policy.

Funding for these programs has dropped slightly since the fiscal stimulus in 2009, but, combined, they still comprise nearly one-fifth of the State Department’s budget.

These new commitments have caught the eye of people in the water, sanitation, and health (WASH) field.

John Oldfield — the managing director of WASH Advocacy Initiative, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization, working to increase global access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene — told Circle of Blue in a December interview that, in terms of budget allocations, projects, and policies, the U.S. government is “trending in the right direction” for water and health.

Other Findings
Despite the potential pitfalls from declining water availability, the new assessment describes several ways that the U.S. could help to shape a more water-secure world. The U.S. is recognized as a global leader in water management and water technology — expertise that can be applied in a host of circumstances, from improving farming methods and irrigation efficiency to aiding water-sharing negotiations.

San Marcos Tlacoyalco Mexico Brent Stirton water drought Tehuacan sewage pollution garbage

Photo © 2009 Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images
San Marcos Tlacoyalco: A young boy pauses on a makeshift garbage bridge as he crosses a stream of raw sewage near San Marcos. The townspeople fear that these unregulated discharges will eventually seep into and contaminate their wells, which are a couple of miles away. From “Tehuacan: Divining Destiny” package. Click the image to launch slideshow.

Technical knowledge, such as hydrological modeling and satellite data, will also be sought after, but, because agriculture uses more water than any other sector, the greatest tool to prevent shortages will be technology to reduce water needed for irrigation.

Helping countries to address these problems could bolster U.S. influence, but water stress also opens economic windows. The report notes that the U.S. is a major food exporter. As water resources become scarcer in places like the Middle East, agricultural giants such as the U.S. and Russia could benefit from higher demand for their products. This, of course, depends on global food markets remaining open, as well as prudent water management at home, where unsustainable groundwater use, poor policy decisions, and misplaced incentives are not unknown.

Reaching Policymakers and Connecting the Dots
The report makes clear that water availability will not be able to keep up with demand without more effective management of water resources, thereby hindering the ability of key countries to generate energy. Water scarcity poses a risk to global food markets and ultimately thwarts economic growth.

Such a comprehensive, networked view of water is something that high-ranking national security officials are trying to get policymakers to understand. During a Congressional hearing in January, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, shared the conclusions from his organization’s annual unclassified report on the most critical threats to America’s national security. The water security report released last week was prepared as part of that process.

Sitting at the witness table with six colleagues from the government’s intelligence agencies, Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the security challenges today are “more complex and interdependent” than any he has seen in his 49-year career.

“Throughout the globe,” Clapper said, “wherever there are environmental stresses on water, food, and natural resources, as well as health threats, economic crises, and organized crime, we see ripple effects around the world and impacts on U.S. interests.”

Yet, many of the questions the senators asked in response — What can we do about Iran’s nuclear program? How can we shield ourselves from cyberattacks? Can you explain the machinations within Pakistan’s government? — centered on what might be called “actor-driven” events. This is the realm in which the national security dialogue traditionally and most comfortably operates: an arena where causes and effects have a one-to-one relationship and where threats can be identified and isolated.

But the seven witnesses and the threat assessment itself sought to connect these political relationships with the environmental, social, and economic substructures that can unexpectedly well up and completely change the script.

“Capabilities, technologies, know-how, communications, and environmental forces,” Clapper said, “aren’t confined by borders and can trigger transnational disruptions with astonishing speed, as we have seen.”

Inner Mongolia herder grassland palani mohan nomad nomadic mongol china desertification

Photo by Palani Mohan, Getty Images
Chinese scientists experimented with various methods of planting hybrid shrubs and grasses, and aerial seeding. They now acknowledge what Mongol herders knew all along. The grasslands repair program was a costly failure, a product of trying to find a technological solution to a much more complex environmental and socioeconomic process. From “Reign of Sand: Inner Mongolia” package. em>Click the image to launch slideshow.

With this final clause, Clapper was referring to the tumultuous Arab Spring, in which popular uprisings toppled governments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen. In Libya, Western air powerhelped rebels oust Muammar Ghaddafi. In Syria, a bloody civil war is still unfolding.

As studies begin to show a correlation between spikes in food prices and the events last year in North Africa and the Middle East, policymakers are gaining more understanding about the conditions that link national security, with water availability and climate change, said Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project and an expert on international water issues, in an interview with Circle of Blue.

Last October, in fact, an advisory board recommended, in a report on climate change and national security, that the Defense Department include water as a “core element” of its security strategy.

Indeed, the latest national threat assessment takes the most comprehensive view of water security since the assessments began in 2006. Yet, climate change — given prominence in past reports and mentioned in the Defense Department’s most recent military operations review — was not addressed at all.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence would not comment on why certain issues rise and fall each year. Instead, the office submitted this statement to Circle of Blue: “There are a number of important issues that the intelligence community pays close attention to, including issues related to climate change, but as the introduction [to the unclassified report] noted, ‘it is virtually impossible to rank — in terms of long-term importance — the numerous potential threats to U.S. national security.’”

Report Excerpt:

Water as a Driver for Peace

Water challenges have often brought divergent actors together to resolve a common problem. Once
cooperative water agreements are established through treaties, they are often resilient over time and
produce peaceful cooperation, even among other existing hostilities and contentious issues.

• The Mekong Committee, established by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam in 1957 exchanged
data and information on the river basin throughout the Vietnam War.

• Israel and Jordan held secret “picnic table” talks to manage the Jordan River starting in 1953, even
though they were officially at war from 1948 until 1994.

• The Indus River Commission survived two major wars between India and Pakistan.
In some cases, joint water governance has created cooperation on broader issues. Water can serve as a
potential entry point for peace and support sustainable cooperation among nations.

Climates of Migration


Historical Intersections of Climate Change and Environmental Migrations

The three-year research project Climates of Migration is a common project of The Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI), generously funded by the German federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project looks at the historical intersections between environmental change and migration and is particularly interested in climate-induced movements of people in the past. Six individual projects consisting out of four dissertations and two post-doctoral projects, will shed light on how, where, and why people migrated as a result of droughts, cold periods, floods, hurricanes, and other extreme natural events.

The team will also develop a chronological database CLIMMIGRATION.dat with examples of environmental migration in the last 500 years, weighing the social and environmental factors that played a role. Both individual research and the collaborative project will focus on three main thematic areas: Climates of Famine, Climates of Colonisation, and Disaster Migration.

  • Climates of Famine
    Research in this area aims to analyze how climate and climate change have triggered famine in the past. Using famine theories, climate reconstructions and ethnohistoric methods, projects will look at the correlation between the environment and migration from a “push” perspective and with respect to adaptation strategies.
  • Famine in Ireland caused massive migration
  • Climates of Colonization
    Rather than focusing on migration as an effect of environmental/climate change, this thematic area questions what it means to experience climate change as an effect of migration, and what influence this has on a communities social and political practice. It aims to find out how social assumptions about the climate-culture nexus organized and legitimized social hierarchies in colonial times.\
  • Disaster Migration
    This thematic area explores sudden rather than long-term environmental stressors, such as floods, hurricanes, landslides and earthquakes. Such severe natural events very often destroy livelihoods and thus turn into catastrophes, forcing people to move. The question arises, when exactly does their dispacement exactly turn into migration. The answer depends on a variety of contextual factors, such as individual, social, and cultural coping capacities; the situation at the origin; and the destination of these “refugees.” Research in this area thus not only takes into account the events themselves, but also (long-term) patterns of vulnerability and resilience.

The project members have organized several small research workshops with leading scholars in the field such as:

In early August 2011, scholars from around the world gathered at the Internationales Begegnungszentrum in Munich for the first of three international conferences of the Climates of Migration project. The main and most important result of this conference was the insight that “environmental migration” is a much more complex and ambivalent phenomenon than usually acknowledged. The sixteen individual presentations highlighted the diversity of the migration/environment nexus in different places at different times. Case studies from Alaska, India, Bolivia, Australia, and many other places emphasized how environmental factors often played an important part in individual decisions to move or migrate. In most cases these environmental reasons were, however, accompanied by deliberations on social, economic, ethnic or cultural grounds.

After three years the case studies and individual projects will be summarized and analyzed in a synthesis study, which will give insight in the dynamics, characteristics and diversity of the phenomena of environmental migration. The research results will be published and presented digitally in the database CLIMMIGRATION.dat, explained with a non-deterministic model for the description of the relation between climate and migration. It will take the social, political and ecological components of human interaction into account; balancing societal and natural environmental factors to overcome the dualism between natural and social science.

A rich overview of case studies will serve scientists and scholars with ideas for potential future research. The project findings will give an important insight in climatically induced migration. The results of the research project will contribute to the improvement of scenario building on climate impact research and environmental migration.

The Development Set

The Development Set
Ross Coggins
“Adult Education and Development” September 1976

Excuse me, friends, I must catch my jet
I’m off to join the Development Set;
My bags are packed, and I’ve had all my shots
I have traveller’s checks and pills for the trots!

The Development Set is bright and noble
Our thoughts are deep and our vision global;
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses.

In Sheraton Hotels in scattered nations
We damn multi-national corporations;
injustice seems easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social rest.

We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks.
Whether Asian floods or African drought,
We face each issue with open mouth.

We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
Raises difficulties for every solution –
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting.

The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet;
We use swell words like “epigenetic”
“Micro”, “macro”, and “logarithmetic”

It pleasures us to be esoteric –
It’s so intellectually atmospheric!
And although establishments may be unmoved,
Our vocabularies are much improved.

When the talk gets deep and you’re feeling numb,
You can keep your shame to a minimum:
To show that you, too, are intelligent
Smugly ask, “Is it really development?”

Or say, “That’s fine in practice, but don’t you see:
It doesn’t work out in theory!”
A few may find this incomprehensible,
But most will admire you as deep and sensible.

Development set homes are extremely chic,
Full of carvings, curios, and draped with batik.
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the great and the poor.

Enough of these verses – on with the mission!
Our task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray god the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.

Canal: Wat Phnom to the Airport

A 1913 proposal to build a canal from Wat Phnom out to the Pochentong (the airport). Shown in red. It looks to run roughly where the railroad is today.













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Places of Pain and Shame

‘Dig a hole and bury the past in it’ *
Reconciliation and the heritage of genocide in Cambodia
Colin Long and Keir Reeves















*(Just what Hun Sen means by ‘reconciliation’, however, is problematic. His definition appears to consist of ‘integration’ of the former Khmer Rouge back into the nation and the absence of armed conflict. Having achieved this reconciliation, he believes that the proper treatment of the country’s traumatic history is to ‘dig a hole and bury the past in it’ (Linron 2004: 12). Given that Cambodia’s history of genocide is most starkly manifested in the familiar images of exhumed mass graves, Hun Sen’s words are insensitive at best, somewhat sinister at worst.)

The involvement of locals in development projects is quite appropriate in normal circumstances, as most international aid agencies now recognise. But this politically correct approach to development practice is simply inappropriate in the interpretation of the Anlong Veng sites.

Why should interpretation take into account local perspectives if locals believe that Ta Mok and Pol Pot were good men? Do former Khmer Rouge have the right to have their understanding of history seriously considered in interpreting the Cambodian past? How are the perspectives of former Khmer Rouge to be weighed against the perspectives of other Cambodians who suffered because of rhe actions not only of rhe Khmer Rouge leaders, but also of Anlong Veng locals who followed those leaders?

In the end we are forced to contemplate the questions that we raised early in this chapter: Why do we want to preserve such sites? To prevent forgetting? To aid In reconciliation. Can sites like Anlong Veng perform the latter role? In traumatized societies whar is most important justice or reconciliation? If the latter, does the preservation of sites of trauma help in achieving reconciliation? Does the preservation of these former Khmer Rouge sites help in the understanding and commemoration of Cambodia’s traumatic history?

Our conclusion, which does nor come easily to us as heritage professionals committed to our field and to the power of herirage as a force for remembrance, is that preservation of the Anlong Veng sites does little or nothing to further understandIng or commemoration of Cambodia’s tragic and painful past. To wipe them from the heritage and tourism map would not be to encourage a culture of forgettIng. Tuol Sleng and other such sites, together with the everyday reality of Cambodian trauma and, hopefully, the trials of the remaining leaders, ensure that the Khmer Rouge period will not be forgotten. Forgetting Anlong Veng’s Khmer Rouge sites, though, will contribute to a culture of true reconciliation by ensurIng that the message about the Khmer Rouge period is clear and untrammeled by moral and historical relativism , by emphasizing above all else the voices of the victims and silencing the perpetrators once and for all.