Localizing global concepts: an exploration of Indigeneity in Cambodia

TitleLocalizing global concepts: an exploration of Indigeneity in Cambodia
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsIronside J
Secondary TitleCritical Asian Studies
Key themesDispossession-grabbing, MarginalisedPeople, Policy-law

Studies of Indigeneity in Southeast Asia have consistently stressed its contested nature. The relevance of the concept has been questioned by governments in this region on the basis that both majority and minority ethnic groups are equally Indigenous. An interesting divergence from this is Cambodia where the term “Indigenous” is recognized in Cambodian law. This has largely been permitted because the term in Khmer is applicable to both ethnic minorities and the Khmer majority. This raises the question of how the concept of Indigenous is interpreted and used in Khmer and other languages. This article explores the root meaning of the Khmer term. Understanding how the concept of Indigeneity has itself been indigenized opens possibilities for building nuances of the term which can provide constructive approaches to addressing majority/minority cultural dynamics. In other words, exploring how terms developed from other contexts have been transposed into local languages can allow for contextualizing concepts to address local realities. A wider understanding of the concept of Indigenous in Khmer allows for building on the concept of Indigeneity in Cambodia, and perhaps other Southeast Asian contexts.


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Journal Article