Mar 25, 2013
By Briagenn Adams
The Fifth Annual Khmer Studies Forum took place March 15, 16 and 17. This three-day event was hosted by the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University and expanded even further from previous years to include a cooking demonstration, dance workshops and a workshop on genocide education.
The Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) was established at Ohio University in 1967 in association with the Center for International Studies. Those involved with CSEAS come from countries all over the world including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United states. The Khmer Studies Forum is one of many events put on by CSEAS throughout the year.
Dr. Sophal Ear served as the keynote speaker of the Fifth Annual Khmer Studies Forum. On Friday morning he presented an address on Aid Dependence in Cambodia: How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy, a book he authored in 2012. Ear has been honored as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and was recently elected to a five-term membership on the Council on Foreign Relations.
Art by Seoun Som was featured in The Fifth Annual Khmer Studies Forum. Although Som was raised in Australia, he was born in a refugee camp in Serak Keo, Thailand and is of Cambodian decent. In his work, Som forms metaphorical connections concerning his experiences as a Cambodian living in the Western culture and the conflict of existing in two very different worlds. He is also currently a program assistant with the Athens Photographic Project.
Dr. Kok-Thay Eng, the Deputy Director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, gave the last speech about the Khmer Rouge genocide on Sunday afternoon. Eng is passionate about educating the Cambodian public about the Khmer Rouge genocide, and has been active in this effort since 2007. So far he has published a textbook, A History of Democratic Kampuchea and a teacher’s guidebook for school instruction.
Eng said that for him, justice means a better life for everybody, today. “The goal is to teach Khmer history to the children and make sure it is acknowledged by the young people and global community,” he said. Eng would like to see the Khmer Rouge leaders imprisoned, and a more aware, involved and knowledgeable public.
The Khmer Studies Forum is planned and developed by Christine Su, director of Southeast Asian Studies at Ohio University, and her students. In Su's International Studies course, students are required to learn about Cambodia as well as gain experience in conference management. Su said that her students must budget for the event, invite speakers, arrange panels and present a paper at the Forum.
“I fee that this year’s KSF was one of the best,” Su said. “The events and activities were geared not only toward scholars and students, but also toward community members. I am incredibly proud of my students.”