Title

Dead Labor, Landscapes, and Mass Graves: Administrative Violence During the Cambodian Genocide

Publication Title

Geoforum

Publication Date

2014

Document Type

Article

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2013.12.011

Keywords

administrative violence, structural violence, genocide, Cambodia, landscapes, mass graves

Disciplines

Geography

Abstract

An estimated 300 mass grave sites, and more than 19,000 burial pits, have been unearthed in Cambodia. These graves mark the sites where approximately 2 million Cambodians died, either from starvation, disease, or execution. In recent years considerable research has directed attention both to the forensic study of Cambodia’s mass graves and also to the politics of memorialization in Cambodia. Less attention has addressed the actual, material production of mass graves during the genocide; consequently, our understanding of the social relations that embody concrete forms of violence remains inadequate. In this paper I draw conceptually on ‘administrative violence’ as a means of bridging direct and structural violence. In so doing I detail how law-making and law-preserving forms of violence intersect with the imposition of structures of violence. This paper therefore makes two contributions—one theoretical, the other empirical. On the one hand I contribute to the burgeoning geographic literature on violence, specifically, through an elaboration of administrative violence; and, on the other hand, I reconsider the spatial practices of Democratic Kampuchea, thereby contributing to a more geographically-informed understanding of the Cambodian genocide.


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