Anne Yvonne Guillou
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From bones-as-evidence to tutelary spirits
The status of bodies in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide

This chapter considers the corpses of mass violence in Cambodia. Cambodia's soil is made from the bodies of its children who have died throughout its history. Human remains have been variously defined and treated as corpses, dead people, ghosts, ancestors, bones-as-evidence and bones-as-memorials. There are similarities, at a village level, between the natural abodes of the land's tutelary spirits, such as groves, certain trees, termite hills or other mounds, and certain mass graves. The chapter explores how the question of observation schedules and temporality seems to be fundamental to our understanding of post-genocide Cambodian society, and in rural Khmer society. Following the 1991 peace accords, which were signed by all parties, including the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, and the placing of Cambodia under United Nations supervision, any reference to the genocide was not allowed in official documents.

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Human remains and mass violence

Methodological approaches


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