Writers of the Cambodian Diaspora Panel Discussion

Books / Literature - Lecture/Discussion

Thursday, September 20, 2018
6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Conference Room

Every culture looks to the work of its writers for a moral compass. The narratives they create reflect and inform their cultural heritage. But when a repressive regime silences those voices it damages its own society and forces the writers who could repair it to flee for safety and freedom of expression. Three writers will present their work and discuss how their unique experiences as political émigrés or as first-generation refugees inform their work. How does living in America impact their work? What challenges do memory and cultural heritage present as they adapt to a new language or find a way to translate their words into English while remaining faithful to Khmer culture and the nuances of the Khmer language?


Tararith Kho is a Cambodian poet, publisher, and educator who has been instrumental in the founding of PEN-Cambodia. Co-founder of the Nou Hach Literature Project and of an affiliated journal that published fiction, essays, and poetry sometimes critical of the Cambodian government, Kho was subjected to threatening anonymous phone calls and emailed death threats which forced him to resign from the Project in January 2010. A former fellow at Harvard Universitys Department of Comparative Literature, he teaches Khmer language and literature at Middlesex Community College.

Chath pierSath is a poet and visual artist. He was born in Bateay Meanchey Province, Cambodia in 1970. After the Khmer Rouge genocide when he was ten years old, he immigrated to the US. His recent book of poetry, This Body Mystery, published in 2012 focuses on narratives of AIDS victims in Cambodia during the 1990s. When in Cambodia, he focuses on trying to help children in his birth village by raising funds to build an English school to teach ecology, sustainable agriculture, art and other skills to meet the demands of the modern world. To help and support this endeavor, you can contact Chath via email, chat4peace@gmail.com.

Bunkong Tuon is Associate Professor of English and Director of Asian Studies at Union College, in Schenectady, NY. His work on Southeast Asian American literature has been published in Comparative Literature Studies, MELUS, Mosaic, and Childrens Literature Quarterly, and elsewhere. Gruel, his full-length poetry collection, was published in 2015 by NYQ Books. His second poetry collection, And So I Was Blessed, published in 2017.

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials (Moderator) is Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut (Storrs); she is also Associate Dean for Humanities and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in UConns College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Prior to this appointment, she served as the Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute (2009-2018). In addition to published book chapters, articles, reviews, and edited collections, she is the author of two monographs: Modeling Citizenship: Jewish and Asian American Writing and War, Genocide, and Justice: Cambodian American Memory Work. She has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies and collections, which include Disability, Human Rights, and the Limits of Humanitarianism; Keywords for Asian American Studies; Interrogating the Perpetrator: Violation, Culpability, and Human Rights; Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century; Flashpoints for Asian American Studies; and Asian America: A Primary Source Reader, among others. She is a coeditor for Temple University Presss Asian American History and Culture series and was the president of the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS, 20162018).

Cost: Free

Suggested Audiences:Elders, Adult, College


Last Modified: August 10, 2018 at 9:55 AM


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