Memory Preservation in Cambodian Graphic Narratives


Cambodia, graphic narrative, postmemory


Since the Cambodian genocide (1975-79), first-and-second generation survivors have developed new ways of processing personal and national trauma, including through the mode of graphic arts. This paper first extrapolates how graphic narratives differ from comics and cartoons. Then the graphic narrative’s role in assisting genocide survivors will be examined. In this section, the works of graphic artists, Ing Phoussera, Aki Rai, and Vath Nath, will be specifically looked at in relation to Franz Stanzel’s idea of ‘reflector narratives’ and Mieke Bal’s definition of ‘focalization.’ The paper will also focus on how graphic narratives have become a mode for second-generation survivors to engage with the past through Bui Long’s ‘refugee repertoire’ and Marianne Hirsch’s concept of ‘postmemory.’ Within this section, Tian Veasna’s Year of the Rabbit’s will be analyzed. Aspects considered include illustration, dialogue, and layered content. Finally, this paper will look at how graphic narratives contribute to the concept of the memory archive and “memory citizenship” within Cambodia. Specific questions that prompt my research include: What is a graphic narrative? Can graphic narratives be sources of memoir and postmemory? How do graphic narratives function as a tool for remembering and working through trauma for artists and readers?
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Copyright (c) 2024 Anneliese Hardman


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