"Research in Cambodia, Half a Century Ago: An Address to the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Studies Group"

William E. Willmott, University of Canterbury (emeritus)
Teochiu Association, Phnom Penh, 1995. Photo: Penny Edwards.
Download Article (218.24 KB)
Abstract

Address to the Thailand, Laos, Cambodia Studies Association at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference in Toronto, March 16, 2012

This event has given me the opportunity to return to almost the beginning of my academic career: my doctoral fieldwork in Cambodia fifty years ago. (It was preceded by fieldwork in an Inuit community in the Ungava, Northern Canada; not relevant here.) Rereading my publications from that research has allowed me to relive the excitement of my Cambodian year, living with my wife and child in Phnom Penh apart from a month in Siem Reap, where I could hire a cyclo for ten riels and visit the various ruins of Angkor every afternoon. Research on overseas Chinese was informed by different paradigms in those days. Bill Skinner was a leading thinker in the field, and Maurice Freedman, my mentor and supervisor, was another. Our issues focused on community social structure and nationalism—many of us were supporters of the national liberation movements in Southeast Asian countries. For most of us, Chinese identity was simply a methodological issue...