Bilingual Khmer/English Literature: Contestation Practices and Strategies in the Cambodian Literary Field

Fransiskus Tri Wahyu Setiawan(1*)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(*) Corresponding Author


The study aims to examine how different agents namely individuals, groups, and organizations form the Cambodian literary field compete through selected practices. Certain strategies are applied in accordance to the rules of game in the literary field production. Having different habitus and capitals, agents struggle and compete for positions in the literary field. Applying literary study and classical ethnographic methods this study shows that political distance from the government in the field of cultural production allows external forces to interfere and reshape the Cambodian literary field. Agents make the structure and are structured in dynamic competition within the field. Strategies are mainly intended to create new network and to gain legitimacy, thereby accumulating capitals. Bilingual Khmer/English literature is important literary phenomenon in Cambodia as it indicates practices of contestation in response to the global field of cultural production. 


Literary Field, Cambodia, Cultural Production, Capital Conversion, Bourdieu

Full Text:



Bourdieu, P. (1996). Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. (R. Nice, Trans.) Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

___________. (1993). The Field of Cultural Production. (R. Johnson, Ed.) U.S.: Columbia University Press.

___________. (1990). In Other Words. (M. Adamson, Trans.) California: Stanford University Press.

___________. (1986). The Forms of Capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Theory and Research for Sociology of Education (pp. 47-58). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Brickell, K., & Springer, S. (Eds.). (2017). The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia. Oxon: Routledge.

Chandler, D. P. (1993). A History of Cambodia (4th ed.). Chiang Mai: Silkworm Books.

Chigas, G. (2000). The emergence of twentieth century Cambodian literary institutions: the case of Kambujasuriya. In D. Smyth (Ed.), The Canon in Southeast Asian Literatures (pp. 137-138). Richmond: Curzon Press.

Guillou, A. Y. (2013). Western Aid Workers in Cambodian Hospitals: Ethical, Professional and Social Divergences. South East Asia Research, 21(3), 403-418.

Hart, C. (2011). Doing Literature Review. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hine, C. (2005). Virtual Methods. (C. Hine, Ed.) Oxford: Berg.

__________. (2001). Virtual Ethnography. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Jacob, J. M. (1996). The Traditional Literature of Cambodia: A Preliminary Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jarvis, H., Lalonde, C., & Lakhena, N. (2006). Publishing in Cambodia. Phnom Penh: JSRC.

Miller, T. (2016). When Nation Loses Its Literature. Retrieved from

Nepote, J., & Dy, K. H. (1981). Literature and Society in Modern Cambodia. In T. S. Chee (Ed.), Essays on Literature and Society in Southeast Asia (p. 61). Kent Ridge: Singapore University Press.

Osipov, Y. M. (2000). Buddhist hagiography in forming the canon in the classical literatures of Indochina. In D. Smyth (Ed.), The Canon in Southeast Asian Literatures (pp. 1-7). Richmond: Curzon Press.

Spradley, J. P. (1980). Participant Observation. U.S.A: Holt, Reinhart and Winston.

Stewart, F., & May, S. (2004). In the Shadow of Angkor. Hawaii: Manoa.

Strangio, S. (2017). The Media in Cambodia. In The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia (pp. 76-86). London: Routledge.

Yamada. (2016). Writing from the Margins. In T. Yamada (Ed.), Modern Literature of Cambodia. Phnom Penh: NHLA.

___________. (2013). Short Fiction in Cambodia. In T. S. Yamada (Ed.), "Just a Human Being" and Other Tales from Contemporary Cambodia. Phnom Penh: NHLA.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 1590 | views : 1766


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 Fransiskus Tri Wahyu Setiawan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

View My Stats