Saturday, June 10, 2006

David P Chandler - Scholar Extraordinaire

Without doubt, the world's leading authority on modern Cambodian history is David P Chandler. So what's his story and why Cambodia? His passion for Cambodian history, politics and culture began when he arrived in Phnom Penh at the end of 1960 for his first overseas posting as a foreign service official with the US dept of state. His tour lasted just two years but left an indelible imprint on him, as he turned to an academic life, specialising in Southeast Asian history. Moving to Australia, he lectured at Monash University in Melbourne and from 1978 til 1996 served as director of SEA studies at Monash, later teaching at universities in the US and France.

In addition to his teaching and research activities, he's also worked as a consultant for the United Nations and Amnesty International but above all else, its his impressive body of published work that stands out above his peers. His books include The History of Cambodia, The Khmers, Facing The Cambodian Past, The Tragedy of Cambodian History and his illuminating bio of Pol Pot, Brother Number One. Much of his work since the mid-80s has focused on genocide and the Khmer Rouge, spending five years in the 90s studying the Tuol Sleng archives resulting in his masterful study in Voices from S-21 : Terror and History in Pol Pot's Secret Prison. Simply put, he has the knack of presenting meticulous scholarly research in a readable and engaging style which has provided a mass readership with a greater understanding of Cambodia and its history.

A fluent speaker in Khmer, French and Spanish, he retired to live in Melbourne in 2003 with his wife Susan and two of his three children though he's still very active in research and lecturing across the globe. And if you were wondering, the 'P' stands for Porter. I've been in contact with Professor Chandler for more than ten years and he's been very supportive to me personally, even giving me a namecheck in the preface to Voices from S-21. I hope one day we'll have the opportunity to meet in person in our beloved Cambodia.


Cambodia Log said...

Hi Andy,

I am glad you joined the blog community and promote knowledge and awareness of all things Cambodian so actively.

Keep up the good work,

Cambodia Log said...
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