The Center for Khmer Studies, one of the leading scholarly organisations in Cambodia, swore in a new president yesterday for the first time in over 15 years.
Andrew Mertha, a Cornell University professor and author of a book on Chinese aid to the Khmer Rouge, will replace Dr Lois de Menel as president of the Siem Reap-based group.
One of Mertha’s aims is to increase interest within US academic circles towards Cambodia.
"Unfortunately, Cambodia is regarded by many in the US as a somewhat insignificant country [geopolitically] . . . Part of what we have to do is educate people about how important Cambodia really is," said Mertha, who will oversee CKS operations from the US.
"If you’re looking at a case study of some of the most important questions about humanity and the human condition, Cambodia is probably one of the best and most vivid case studies around. It should receive much more attention than it actually does."
CKS is part of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, an international group funded by a mix of private and public US institutions.