Archiving The Unspeakable: Silence, Memory, And The Photographic Record In Cambodia

Paperback | April 1, 2014

byMichelle Caswell

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Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “enemies of the state” were tortured before being sent to the Killing Fields. In Archiving the Unspeakable, Michelle Caswell traces the social life of these photographic records through the lens of archival studies and elucidates how, paradoxically, they have become agents of silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice as they are deployed at various moments in time and space. From their creation as Khmer Rouge administrative records to their transformation beginning in 1979 into museum displays, archival collections, and databases, the mug shots are key components in an ongoing drama of unimaginable human suffering.

Winner, Waldo Gifford Leland Award, Society of American Archivists

Longlist, ICAS Book Prize, International Convention of Asia Scholars

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Roughly 1.7 million people died in Cambodia from untreated disease, starvation, and execution during the Khmer Rouge reign of less than four years in the late 1970s. The regime’s brutality has come to be symbolized by the multitude of black-and-white mug shots of prisoners taken at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison, where thousands of “e...

Michelle Caswell is an assistant professor of archival studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she is also an affiliated faculty member with the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

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Kobo ebook|Apr 1 2014

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:246 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.8 inPublished:April 1, 2014Publisher:University Of Wisconsin PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0299297543

ISBN - 13:9780299297541

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
 
Introduction: Silence, Agency, and the Social Life of Records
 
1 The Making of Records
 
2 The Making of Archives
 
3 The Making of Narratives
 
4 The Making of Commodities
 
Conclusion: The Archival Performance of Human Rights and the Ethics of Looking
 
Notes
Bibliography
Index 

Editorial Reviews

“A welcome contribution to scholarship on photography, human rights, and the making of historical memory in Cambodia and beyond. In Caswell’s account, the [Tuol Sleng Prison] archive, its material contents, and history itself are revealed to be open-ended processes rather than fixed contents. Like the struggle to hold perpetrators accountable, remember the victims, and rebuild a devastated country, the photographs of Tuol Sleng remain unfinished.”—Pacific Affairs Book Review