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date: 17 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues that Cambodian and Cambodian American survivors of genocide avoid telling and documenting their personal stories of trauma because the rendering of these stories complicates the community’s understanding of morality. This is in part because the circumstances of the Khmer Rouge genocide were such that no clear “other” enemy emerged—a genocide perpetrated by and on Cambodians. By speaking out and telling their stories through oral histories, films, books, etc., Cambodians can implicate themselves, evoking shame and guilt in addition to trauma. The author examines and compares the relative “silence” among Cambodians with regard to the history of the telling of survivor stories among Holocaust survivors in the United States and Europe.

Keywords: Cambodia, Cambodian American, Khmer Rouge, Holocaust, genocide, oral history, storytelling, trauma, shame, guilt

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