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Gatty Lecture Series Highlights: Eve Zucker - "Forest Hermits, Harvest Festivals & A Leap of Faith: Imagination & Recovery in the Aftermath of the Khmer Rouge"

Eve Zucker discusses how sources of healing from historical violence and trauma can be found within Khmer culture itself.

On February 4, 2016, Dr. Eve Zucker, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights, Rutgers University at Newark, gave a powerful Gatty Lecture about how Khmer people have dealt with the destruction of social and moral order in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge. Drawing from fieldwork carried out in a commune in a mountainous area on the edge of the forest, Dr. Zucker argued that sources for healing from violence and trauma can be found within Khmer culture itself, particularly through the worlds and possibilities provided by transcendental social relations. For example, the ability to see Neak Sac Cam (អ្នកសច្ចំ), enchanted forest hermit spirits, or literally, "those who are honest," reflects a person's own honesty and faithfulness, and such engagement with the atemporal enchanted realm can be a potent resource for social change and the reestablishment of trust. The final image in Dr. Zucker's presentation was a photograph taken recently by SEAP student Emiko Stock, depicting statues of Khmer Rouge soliders in Anlong Veng. The statues have been layered with new meanings and interpretations, as evidenced by the fashioning of a representation of Yiey Maw, protector of the roads and healer of illness. Are these multiple historical and transcendental modalities of worship a hopeful sign of healing? Thank you Dr. Zucker for a fascinating and essential talk!