How did Paris-trained Cambodian intellectuals transform into hardened Maoist guerrillas?

This presentation explores the link between the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to globalize Maoism and the dialectical engagement of exported Maoism by intellectuals who became Maoists in Cambodia. It draws from Edward Said’s concept of “Traveling Theory,” which identifies conditions of production, transmission, and reception, to explain how Maoism emerged in Cambodian intellectual circles. The presentation does so by examining the intellectual journey of Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) Minister of Information Hu Nim (aka. Comrade Phoas). During his studies in Paris in the 1950s and after trips to China in the 1960s, Nim founded the Khmer-Chinese Friendship Association; Sameak Kommittpheap Khmer-Chen; Gaomian-Zhongguo youhao xiehui) and became a Maoist until his execution at Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison. The presentation is therefore one of becoming in which the central roles of community and network pushed Nim towards radicalization. It seeks ultimately to chart the course of Maoisms, global and local, by making broader sense of Nim’s life and by referring to organizations in which he participated actively.

About the speaker

Dr Matthew Galway is a lecturer of Chinese History at the Australian National University. He taught previously at the University of Melbourne, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on the globalization of Maoism and the rise of Maoist movements in Southeast Asia and Latin America. His book project, The Emergence of Global Maoism: China’s Red Evangelism and the Communist Movement in Cambodia, 1949-1979, is forthcoming with Cornell University Press. He contributed book chapters to Afterlives of Chinese Communism (ANU Press, 2019), and Translating the Japanese Occupation of China (UBC Press, 2020), and has authored peer-reviewed articles in China Information, Asian Ethnicity, and Left History. He has a forthcoming article on the Cultural Revolution in Cambodia in The Journal of Southeast Asian Studies due out in early 2021.

The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.

Updated:  6 October 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team