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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Winter Session 2020 will run from December 26, 2019 to January 18, 2020, with three-week on-campus classes beginning on January 2, 2020. We will update the Winter Session site in September. If you would like to receive an email when this happens, please join our email list. In the meantime, you may want to browse through the site to get an idea of what we offer.

Chinese Empire and the Cambodian Experience

January 1-18, 2018


In this course, we will explore the political trajectories of two countries whose modern histories became intertwined in the 1950s and remain so today. In doing so, we will undertake a multidisciplinary tour that draws from history, political science, anthropology, archaeology, and the visual arts to explore three major themes:

  • China's presence and role in the greater Indochina region,
  • the political evolution and devolution of political institutions in Cambodia, and
  • larger questions about genocide, international justice, geopolitics, and colonial legacies.

The course will involve daily lectures of three hours combined with field trips to important sites that will animate the lectures and readings.

These sites will include the temples of Angkor, the archaeological excavations at Mount Kulen, the torture site of Santebal 21 (also known as Tuol Sleng), the killing fields of Cheong Ek, the Cambodian National Archives, and former Khmer Rouge strongholds along the Thai-Cambodian border.

In addition to Professor Mertha's lectures, we will also have a range of guest speakers and guides who have devoted their lives to study of Cambodia.

Grades will be based on attendance, class participation, small writing assignments, and a group research project at the end of the session.