Scholars praise contribution as key for understanding among the
Kingdom's various ethnic groups, and call for additional research.
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A man reads a copy of a new book released by the Centre for Advanced Study on the Kingdom's many ethnic minorities.
THE Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) announced Thursday the release of the first history of ethnic minority groups in Cambodia.
The 664-page book examines the lifestyles and cultures of Cambodian residents of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian descent, as well as members of Muslim and other minority communities, said CAS director Hun Sokhom.
The book is based on two separate studies carried out by Khmer and foreign experts - a three-month study by the United Nations in 1996, and a 12-month study in 2006, paid for by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The Foundation also donated US$90,000 for the printing of the book, which will have an initial print run of 1,000 copies - 500 in Khmer and 500 in English.
CAS distributed 100 free copies at a launch event held Thursday. The book's price tag is $19.
"We hope the book will help Khmer people better understand the traditions and cultures of each ethnic group," Hun Sokhun said, adding that he believes widespread distribution of the book will reduce discrimination directed at minority groups.
Zakarya Adam, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religion who is a Muslim, also said he believes the book could promote better relations among various ethnic groups.
"I think all ethnic groups in Cambodia should read this book," he said. "I also think CAS should host presentations of the book's content or hold a meeting among members of different ethnic groups so we can better understand each other," he said.
Nov Sokmady, a scholar who contributed research to the book on Chinese living in Cambodia, said time constraints might have led researchers to omit critical information about some groups.
Nevertheless, she said, "Readers can find this document useful and use it as a basis for understanding each ethnic group."
Sun Chiv, who is Vietnamese, said he believes the book will encourage solidarity among various minority groups.
"We are happy with this publication, and we believe that all ethnic groups will help complete the missing points of the book for the next publication," he said.
Zakarya Adam said future scholars should, in later editions of the book, fill in any holes in the research.