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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Interview with Boreth Ly on Her New Book, Traces of Trauma

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Boreth Ly’s latest book is Traces of Trauma: Cambodian Visual Culture and National Identity in the Aftermath of Genocide. This is a complex book, to say the least. It is not the type of book just anyone could write. Ly explores how the artistic practices of contemporary Cambodian artists at home and in the diaspora—including installation artists, painters, photographers, filmmakers, poets, and court dancers—give voice to a culturally specific understanding of trauma and how they found ways to live after the civil war, US secret bombings, and Khmer Rouge genocide. Her background, experiences, and intellectual fortitude make her uniquely capable of formulating discreet and meaningful connections across different art forms and objects. We admire the way Ly can intellectualize and theorize but not erase the emotional anguish that grounds the creation of these works of art. She is not afraid of her humanity. Moreover, she is not afraid to make it personal.

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