Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories: Jarai and Other Lives in the Cambodian Highlands (Culture, Place, and Nature): Jonathan Padwe, K. Sivaramakrishnan

In the hill country of northeast Cambodia, just a few kilometers from the Vietnam border, sits the village of Tang Kadon. This community of hill rice farmers of the Jarai ethnic minority group survived aerial bombardment and the American invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, only to find themselves relocated to the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge regime. Now back in their homeland, they have reestablished agriculture, seed by seed.

Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories tells the story of violence and dispossession in the highlands from the perspective of the land itself. Weaving rich ethnography with the history of the Jarai and their treatment at the hands of outsiders, Jonathan Padwe narrates the highlanders’ successful efforts to rebuild their complex, highly diverse agricultural system after a decades-long interruption.

Focusing on the ecological dimensions of social change and dispossession from the precolonial slave trade to the present moment of land grabs along a rapidly transforming resource frontier, Padwe shows how the past lives on in the land. An engrossing treatment of timely issues in anthropology and political ecology, this book will also appeal to readers in environmental studies, geography, and Southeast Asian studies.

Editorial Reviews


“Building from sustained fieldwork, Padwe not only vividly depicts Jarai social life but also teaches us how to read forested landscapes, natural surroundings, and social life on the margins of the nation-state.”―Erik Harms, author of Luxury and Rubble: Civility and Dispossession in the New Saigon

“A wonderful, original and timely intervention in Southeast Asian studies and studies of the land/habitat/histories of place and of border regions. It will find a place on academic, specialist, public, and student bookshelves alike.”―Penny Edwards, author of Cambodge: The Cultivation of a Nation (1860–1945)

Book Description

Reclamation and renewal following war and genocide

About the Author

Jonathan Padwe is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

  • Paperback : 280 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0295746904
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0295746906
  • Publisher : University of Washington Press (April 15, 2020)

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