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The Soriya Band: A Case Study of Cambodian American Rock Music in Southern California


Following the 1975-1979 genocide, Cambodian exiles in the U.S. recreated cultural institutions through music. Music remains significant in rebuilding cultural life in diasporic Cambodian communities. Live bands perform contemporary and classic ballads during Cambodian New Year in April, at wedding parties and in restaurants on weekend nights. Live rock bands continue to dot community celebrations as survivors collectively create musical repertoires and schedule practices to perform at festive community events. Despite the ubiquity of live musical performance in Cambodian communities, this aspect of Cambodian American cultural formation has been scarcely addressed in the literature. This Thesis addresses the deficiency in the literature through ethnographic fieldwork with a Southern California rock band called the Soriya Band, comprised of three guitarists, a keyboardist, a drummer and two vocalists who are all first generation Cambodian survivors. Music persists as a vehicle for cultural creation and change for Cambodian American refugee-survivors.

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