Current Institutional Affiliation
Cornell University

Award Information

Modern Lovescapes and Phnom Penh’s New Dating Culture: Gender, Self and Desire(s) in Postconflict Cambodia

My project looks at change and continuity in gender ideals and relations in urban Cambodia through the trope of romantic love and its increasingly widespread purchase as the basis for marriage amongst young Cambodians in a liberalizing, postconflict society where the majority of young people only began dating and choosing their partners less than ten years ago. In asking how young people's gendered, romantic subjectivities are configured by the lures, demands, and tensions of love's articulation with "modernity" in Cambodia, I will study the intergenerational changes that have taken place in gender roles, family relations and the desires (material, affective, sexual) and personal aspirations of young Cambodians of different social backgrounds. Drawing from a variety of overlapping theoretical frames (anthropology, cultural studies, gender studies, social theory and area studies), my research will address 1) how romantic desires and ideologies are structured in the neoliberal context of "development," and reconstruction, focusing on new technologies, patterns of consumption, social media and 2) the ways in which these inflect gendered senses and negotiations of self and other in the home, school, workplace and in love and marriage. By examining the social, cultural and historical parameters of romantic subjectivity in Cambodia through an urban ethnography of Phnom Penh's contemporary lovescape(s) where rapid development is giving rise to new values, lifestyles, aesthetics and romantic possibilities, this work seeks to add new dimensions to research on gender and family dynamics in Southeast Asia, and more specifically postconflict Cambodia, which in this area has generally focused more on labor, reproductive health, sex work, exploitation and domestic violence.