Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories
Jarai and Other Lives in the Cambodian Highlands
- PUBLISHED: April 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Asian Studies / Southeast Asia
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 280 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 21 b&w illus., 10 maps, 2 tables
- SERIES: Culture, Place, and Nature
- ISBN: 9780295746920
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
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.
Authors & Contributors
Jonathan Padwe is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Based on extensive fieldwork, this book is part ethnography of a marginal Cambodian hill tribe of rice farmers, the Jarai, and part eco/cultural treatise about the mutual influences between people and their land and between history and memory.- Choice
[N]ot your average academic book...a truly interdisciplinary contribution...Its strength lies precisely in this interdisciplinarity, allowing Padwe to draw out novel and thought-provoking insights in an engaging writing style (complemented with beautiful photos).- South East Asia Research
[T]he book analyzes forest biota and agricultural practices, enabling a new approach to conceptualizing landscapes that melds representation, materiality and ecology.- New Books in Southeast Asian Studies (NBN)
By zooming in on vernacular geography and ecology in combination with history and anthropology, Padwe has crafted a compelling addition to this small library of vernacular highland histories in mainland Southeast Asia. A highly readable book that does not suffer from overtheorization, Disturbed Forests, Fragmented Memories will be of interest for historians and anthropologists of the region and, more importantly, for those interested in how a “more-than-human anthropology” and history might look like in practice.- Journal of Asian Studies
Southeast Asia scholars in multiple fields will be drawn to the book for its impeccable attention to the ethnographic, oral, and archival record of the Vietnam-Cambodian borderlands.- Journal of Peasant Studies
The stories that Padwe narrates are a pleasure to read and capture a sense of the world in which the highlanders of northeastern Cambodia live.- Journal of Vietnamese Studies
Being of blurred genre, beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries of anthropology, human geography, Southeast Asia studies, or ethnohistory, this text may be of comparative interest for those anywhere engaged in bottom-up restoration—whether Native American revival of land stewardship through cultural burning, urban folk attempting to restore gift economies through permaculture garden systems, and others thinking deeply about ecological resilience and recuperation in the conjunctures of our post-pandemic world.- Conservation and Society
This thought-provoking book...is excellent in its richness and detail.- Pacific Affairs
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)