Love and Dread in Cambodia: Weddings, Births, and Ritual Harm Under the Khmer Rouge Reviews

For a decade, the author followed Cambodian men and women to former wedding and birth sites from the Khmer Rouge period (1975-1979), filming their return to these locations. In the process, she uncovered evidence of the way severe dislocation, induced starvation and other murderous activities paved the way for reconstructed communes. Group marriages along with prescriptions for sex, pregnancies and births, were a central feature of the remaking of Cambodia society and contributed to the dissolution of the country’s ritual practices. This ‘ritualcide’ caused a mass loss of spirit-protective places, objects, and arbitrators, and had a traumatic impact on Khmer society. Group marriages did, however, give spouses a reprieve from further dislocation. Approaching the process as an ethno-psychologist, LeVine argues that suffering was intensified by ritual tampering on the part of the Khmer Rouge. Such disruptions did not end in 1979, however, since Euro-American perspectives on trauma and reconciliation have also failed to accept spirit respect as a normative feature.

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