IV-13. “(Re)connecting the Past after the Battle Field: A Study of Cambodian Historiography after the End of its Civil War in 1991” (H29 FY2017)

  • Project Leader : Shintani Haruno (The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences)
  • Collaborators : Thun Theara (National University of Singapore, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)
  • : Kitagawa Takako (Toyo Bunko, Research department)
  • : Kobayashi Satoru (Kyoto University, Center for Southeast Asian Studies)

Outline of Research

After more than two decades of civil war, Cambodia reached a new period after 1991. It was the era in which the constitutional monarchy was restored and liberal multi-party democracy was adopted as the principle of the country’s political regime. The country has experienced changes in its political landscape covering the time of national reconciliation, the restoration of the constitutional monarchy, the contestations among major political parties, and the consolidation of power by Prime Minister Hun Sen. These new political contexts introduced new circumstances for local educated members to produce historical narratives aiming to connect contemporary Cambodia to its long distant past. Examining school history textbooks and history books published in the local language, this study discusses the contents of Cambodia’s historiography produced between 1991 and 2013. The study argues that the contents of those history books predominantly emphasize certain historical episodes and figures and draw interpretations to suit their current needs and political agendas.


This project aims to collect and critically examine historical writings produced by Cambodian intellectuals during the post-civil war years. Taking into account key political factors, it will look into school historical textbooks and identify the changes of their contents in accordance with changes in national politics. Additionally, the research will look into individual scholars’ historical discourses of the national history and analyze their works based on their educational background and political tendency. By so doing, the project will extend its discussion broadly to Cambodian historiography and intellectual history during the proposed period. Several important topics will be included in the discussion, such as (re)construction of national identity in the post-conflict country, re-creation of national heroes, and decolonization of the national history.

Since very few studies have closely examined the construction of historical writings with reference to national political developments, this project will enhance understanding of the use of national historical narratives among different political factions to compete for power in Cambodia. It will also be very beneficial in understanding the political identity of contemporary Cambodia. As the current project is going to collect and examine a wide range of documents written in the local language as well as opinions of local historians, it will also be an important academic reference for those who attempt to more deeply understand Cambodian politics and the roles of local historians in shaping the domestic political landscape.


Royal University of Phnom Penh, Hun Sen library

Social Studies Textbook for 10th grade