Presentation Title

Ideology in the Cambodian Genocide

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Location

HUB 268

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Abstract

From 1975-1979, 1.5 million people perished under the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Party. Various works of scholarship describe different ideological inspirations for the Cambodian Genocide, but a comprehensive work describing the role of ideology in the event is lacking. This investigation is a historiography of monographs, peer-reviewed journal articles, and primary sources on the Cambodian Genocide. These findings synthesize the existing information on the ideological influences on the incident into a single piece of scholarship. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge evacuated Phom Penh after capturing it from the fallen Lon Nol government, forcing its residents into the countryside to become agricultural workers. This heralded the beginning of the Cambodian Genocide – an era in which the people of Cambodia were threatened by the ever-present threat of summary execution, labor camps, and “re-education.” The Khmer Rouge persecuted racial minorities privileged in the French colonial hierarchy (Vietnamese, Cham, and Chinese) to advance Pol Pot’s racist vision for a “pure” Cambodia. The regime also targeted intellectuals and urban people, claiming that they dominated the old order, were “corrupted by Western capitalism, and therefore antithetical to the new rural-based society. The Cambodian Genocide was motivated by an interpretation of Maoist communism which idealized a self-sufficient rural society, Pol Pot’s yearning to return Cambodia to the “pristine” and “mythical” state of antiquity, and the elimination of perceived enemies of the revolution. By understanding these ideological roots for a dark chapter in modern history, humanity may better guard against extremist ideologies which espouse the persecution of groups of people, the return to a halcyon past, and the establishment of an isolationist self-sustaining society.

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Nov 12th, 11:30 AM Nov 12th, 11:45 AM

Ideology in the Cambodian Genocide

HUB 268

From 1975-1979, 1.5 million people perished under the reign of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge Party. Various works of scholarship describe different ideological inspirations for the Cambodian Genocide, but a comprehensive work describing the role of ideology in the event is lacking. This investigation is a historiography of monographs, peer-reviewed journal articles, and primary sources on the Cambodian Genocide. These findings synthesize the existing information on the ideological influences on the incident into a single piece of scholarship. In 1975, the Khmer Rouge evacuated Phom Penh after capturing it from the fallen Lon Nol government, forcing its residents into the countryside to become agricultural workers. This heralded the beginning of the Cambodian Genocide – an era in which the people of Cambodia were threatened by the ever-present threat of summary execution, labor camps, and “re-education.” The Khmer Rouge persecuted racial minorities privileged in the French colonial hierarchy (Vietnamese, Cham, and Chinese) to advance Pol Pot’s racist vision for a “pure” Cambodia. The regime also targeted intellectuals and urban people, claiming that they dominated the old order, were “corrupted by Western capitalism, and therefore antithetical to the new rural-based society. The Cambodian Genocide was motivated by an interpretation of Maoist communism which idealized a self-sufficient rural society, Pol Pot’s yearning to return Cambodia to the “pristine” and “mythical” state of antiquity, and the elimination of perceived enemies of the revolution. By understanding these ideological roots for a dark chapter in modern history, humanity may better guard against extremist ideologies which espouse the persecution of groups of people, the return to a halcyon past, and the establishment of an isolationist self-sustaining society.