Annual Meeting News

November 5, 2014

Cultural Heritage Preservation in Cambodia: An Interdisciplinary Case Study


Two years ago, the New York Times revealed that Sotheby’s auction house was attempting to sell a thousand-year-old Khmer masterpiece, despite evidence that thieves had hacked it from a Cambodian temple during the early years of the 1970–1998 war against the Khmer Rouge. Six weeks later, the U.S. Attorney filed a civil forfeiture action, seeking to recover and return the statue to Cambodia. For nearly two years, the case continued to make headlines around the world. Then in December 2013, the parties finally settled. The sculpture was going home.

This session will examine the many threats to Cambodia’s art and archaeology, both historically and today. It will also present solutions for better protecting and recovering cultural materials, drawing from several perspectives, including archaeology, criminology, history, museums, and the law.

ORGANIZER: Terressa Davis, University of Glasgow

PAPERS IN THIS SESSION:

A Wartime Cultural Exchange between French Indochina and Japan
Ricardo Elia, Boston University

Beyond Looting, Studying Gods and Heroes of Ancient Cambodia: the Emblematic Case of the Statuary of Koh Ker
Eric Bourdonneau, École Française d’Extrême-Orient (EFEO)

Criminological Perspectives on the Illicit Trade in Cambodian Antiquities
Simon Mackenzie, University of Glasgow

The Use of Civil Forfeiture in the Recovery of Antiquities: Sotheby’s, Cambodia, and Other Cases
Patty Gerstenblith, DePaul University College of Law

Archaeology and Cultural Resource Management at Cheung Ek Archaeological Site, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Kaseka Phon, Royal Academy of Cambodia

Moving Forward: Resolving Problems of Cultural Legitimacy and Repatriation in Cambodia and Beyond
Helen Jessup, Friends of Khmer Culture

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