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Memories of violence, suffering and atrocities in Cambodia are today being pulled in different directions. A range of transitional justice practices have been put to work in the name of redressing, restoring and renewing memory. At the centre of this stage is the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), a hybrid tribunal established to prosecute the leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime, under which 1.6 million Cambodians died of hunger or disease or were executed.
This book unpicks the way memory is reconstructed through appeals to a national memory, the legal reframing and coding of memories as crimes, and bids to locate personal memories within collective biographies. Analysing the techniques and interventions of the ECCC, as well as exploring the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the book explores the relationships in which Cambodian communities navigate memories of political violence. This book is essential for understanding transitional justice in Cambodia in, and beyond, the courtroom. Transitional Justice and Memory in Cambodia shows that the governing logic of transitional justice interventions – that societies are unable to 'deal with' memories of atrocity and violence without some form of transitional justice mechanism – neglects the complexity of memory and remembering in post-atrocity contexts and the agency of the subjects to which such mechanisms are addressed.
Drawing on documentary sources, legal transcripts, interviews and participant observation data, the book situates transitional justice processes in Cambodia within a wider context of social and cultural memory politics, examining (old and new) conflicts of memory that have emerged between the varied accounts and uses of the past that exist in Cambodia now. As such, it will appeal to students and scholars in sociology, human rights, law and criminology.