From Dept Bonded Slaves to Vagrants: Poor Cambodian Farmers under French Rule, SOAS seminar, 28 February 2017

Dr Mathieu Guérin (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales)

Date: 28 February 2017 Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B111

Type of Event: Seminar


Since the period of the French Protectorate of Cambodia, Cambodian farmers’ society is often considered as an example of « rural democracy » made of small landowners. Colonial and Cambodian archives, especially tax registers and judicial archives, present a Cambodian rural society much more complex. This was confirmed by the findings of the Guernut commission appointed by the Front Populaire in 1937-1938.

The condition of Cambodian poor farmers, who used to be mostly debt bonded labourers, did worsen after they were emancipated by the French in 1897. Historical records show that French colonial policy increased their vulnerability through marginalisation, even if it was not the intention of the colonial power.

Speaker Biography

Dr Mathieu Guérin is Maître de Conférences (Associate- Professor) at the National Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisation (INALCO) in Paris, where he teaches History of Southeast Asia. He is a member of the Southeast Asia Centre (CASE), a research team under the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the INALCO and the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). He currently conducts research on the social history of Cambodian rural societies and on wildlife-human conflicts in Southeast Asia. He authored or co-authored two books and a few dozens papers mainly on the history of Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Organiser: Centres & Programmes Office

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