Reconstructing Memory and Reality: Exploring civil society's contestation of memory reconstructions within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia
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This thesis explores how the institutional practices and activities of civil society actors inadvertently contest the memories of Democratic Kampuchea and the Khmer Rouge that are reconstructed within the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. First, this thesis identifies the framing processes that take place within the court, which thereby reconstruct memories of the past in ways that, this research has found, favour existing asymmetrical structures of power that exist within Cambodian society. Further, the court is framed as the most legitimate mechanism for achieving justice, peace and truth for Cambodian citizens, and thus these memory reconstructions strive to be perceived as the dominant truth in Cambodia. Second, this thesis then moves on to identify those civil society institutional practices and activities that contest the memory reconstructions espoused by the court. This inadvertent contestation is analysed in line with three major themes: the involvement of youth, perceptions of victimhood and guilt, and gendered narratives of the past. I argue that these practices and their underlying analysis are illustrative of a way in which the fissure that often exists between memories reconstructed within TJ mechanisms, and the memories of those over whom a TJ mechanism governs, might be narrowed by engaging in practices that encourage participant-ownership over, and active engagement with, memory, knowledge and the past.