Cambodian Artistic Resilience: Outlets of
Khmer Cultural Survival since the Khmer Rouge
The 10th International Conference of Museums for Peace
Title: Cambodian Artistic Resilience: Outlets of Khmer Cultural Survival since the Khmer Rouge
Author: Anneliese Hardman, Former Museum Assistant, Cambodia Peace Gallery, USA
Abstract: The Khmer Rouge Genocide took place between 1975 and 1979; during this three year and eight month time period, about two to four million Cambodians lost their lives. Amongst the targeted population included a majority of Khmer artists. According to an interview with the Minister of Information and Culture, Chheng Peon, the Khmer Rouge “regime destroyed [our] national culture almost completely and killed almost 80 percent of [our] male and female performers" (Kampuchea Review ). In an attempt to highlight Cambodian resilience as found through the enduring outlets of Khmer arts, this research focuses on the role of refugee camps in preserving tradition and the revitalization of the arts. In collaboration with photographer, Sharon May, and Phare Ponleu Selpak, this research also explores how the reintroduction of Khmer arts has linked creative expression, identity healing, and hope for the future. The arts have created outlets for listening to stories, acknowledging injustice, mourning loss, and sharing suffering. Most importantly, the rebirth of art and culture has allowed Cambodians to imagine a future for their country.