Department of social anthropology seminar with Philippe Peycam

The Department of Social Anthropology has the pleasure to invite you to this week's seminar. Dr. Philippe Peycam, International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), Netherlands, will present the following paper:


Sketching an Institutional History of Academic Knowledge Production in Cambodia (1863-today)

This talk will consider one essential aspect of a policy-orientated research project which I am currently working on, provisionally entitled “Social Cohesion through Creative Knowledge, Lessons from Post-war Cambodia”.

For nearly 10 years I was involved in developing a research academic institution - the Center for Khmer Studies - in Cambodia, a country doubly affected by the legacies of colonialism (and its afterlives) and conflicts. An objective of the research project is to look for points of interaction or bridges born out of interstitial historical situations through which a real inter-cultural dialogue founded on the notions of plurality and reciprocity becomes viable. The research is thus situated at the intersection between a scholarly interest in modes of cultural representation and the complex relation between culture and politics in colonial and postcolonial situations.

I would like here to contextualize this approach by returning to the history of institutional academic knowledge production, from the beginning of the French protectorate (1863) until today. After sketching the colonial and post-independence legacies, with the central role played by the orientalist institution Ecole Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO), I will introduce the pioneering work of the Centre de Documentation et de Recherche sur la Civilisation Khmères (CEDORECK), a relatively unknown initiative carried out by Cambodians in exile at a time when the existence of Cambodia as a functioning society was put into question. This institution's work was able to anticipate other private civil society initiatives created in post-UN Cambodia.

Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, on the emergence of Vietnam’s first public political culture in colonial Saigon (a book on the subject, Print Journalism and the Colonial Origins of Modern Vietnamese Political culture, Saigon 1916-30, is in preparation at Columbia University Press). From 1999 to 2009, Peycam worked as the founding director of the Center for Khmer Studies in Cambodia, an international – yet locally rooted - institution aimed at promoting scholarship on the region while building local capacities in higher education and beyond. Since April 2010, he is the director of the International Institute of Asian Studies, Leiden, the Netherlands. He shares a research fellowship at the US Institute of Peace, Washington DC (Jennings Randolph programme), and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore.

All are welcome!