Reconciliation, hope and different ways of seeing

Authored by: Kevin Young

Routledge Handbook of Sport for Development and Peace

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138210486
eBook ISBN: 9781315455174
Adobe ISBN:


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Even the most cursory glance at the recent history of Cambodia shows that this is a country that has been, quite literally, to hell and back. The harrowing practices of a genocidal regime in the form of the Khmer Rouge and the resulting deaths of millions in the ‘Killing Fields’ have not been, and never will be, forgotten. But there is also evidence that long-suffering Cambodian people have turned a corner and are now in their second generation of post-genocide peace. This hopefulness is being acted out on a number of cultural fronts, including sport. Thus, Cambodia represents a fascinating but complex case for the consideration of sport’s role in wider processes of social development. Although on-the-ground sport-for-development programs are in place and relatively easy to identify, both their long-term impacts as well as sustained research efforts culminating in compelling published statements based upon them are far more difficult to identify. For instance, almost no empirically based work on Cambodian sport exists in the sub-discipline of the sociology of sport, and occasional reports based upon extant programs tend to be brief, descriptive, and uncritical. The scant scholarly research that does exist provides clear pause for thought and points towards arguably contradictory conclusions. This paper summarizes the Cambodian ‘sport-for-development’ scene, illustrating the author’s experiences with various sport initiatives in the northern Cambodian community of Siem Reap.

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