Roderic Broadhurst, Thierry Bouhours and Brigitte Bouhours
Violence and the Civilising Process in Cambodia
Cambridge University Press 2015
New Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in Southeast Asian StudiesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network November 29, 2017 Nick Cheesman
The work of sociologist Norbert Elias has had a renaissance in recent times, with Steven Pinker, among others, using it to argue that interpersonal violence has declined globally as states have expanded and subdued restless populations. In Violence and the Civilising Process in Cambodia (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Roderic Broadhurst and his co-authors Thierry and Brigette Bouhours bring the declinist thesis to Southeast Asia. Coupling Elias’s approach with criminological theory, Broadhurst and the Bouhours argue that Cambodia’s experience over a 150 years is broadly consistent with what Elias found in Europe: that by monopolising force, generating chains of interdependence, and sensitising people to violence, states have an overall civilising effect. This is a startling and counterintuitive finding for a country whose name was not so long ago synonymous with genocide. But, Broadhurst and co-authors explain, the civilizing process is not linear. Asia like Europe has had its decivilising periods, and it might yet have some more. The overall trend, nevertheless, is away from violence and towards civility.
Roderic Broadhurst joins New Books in Southeast Asian Studies to talk about state violence versus interpersonal violence, French colonial administration, postcolonialism and modernity, Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge, Hun Sen and authoritarianism, and the challenges of doing historical sociology across multiple regime types and periods.
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Astrid Noren-Nilsson, Cambodia’s Second Kingdom: Nation, Imagination, and Democracy
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