Thanks to the international tourism industry most people are familiar with the spectacular ruins of Angkor, the great Cambodian empire that lasted from about the 9th to the early 15th century. We are especially familiar with those haunting images of the face of King Jayavarman VII, represented in the stone sculptures of the Bayon temple in Angkor Thom. Archaeologists and historians tend to relate the history of the Angkorean era through the dynasties of great kings. These are, of course, all male images. But this apparent maleness of the Angkorean state contrasts with one of the paradigms of Southeast Asia as a cultural zone: the comparatively high status of women. Ashley Thompson
addresses this apparent contradiction in her new book titled, Engendering the Buddhist State: Territory, Sovereignty and Sexual Difference in the Inventions of Angkor
(Routledge, 2016). Among the themes of this rich, challenging, and provocative book is the gendered nature of the Angkorean state.
Patrick Jory teaches Southeast Asian History in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org