A Shifting Universe – Religion and Moral Order in Cambodia

Authored by: Alexandra Kent

The Handbook of Contemporary Cambodia

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138831186
eBook ISBN: 9781315736709
Adobe ISBN: 9781317567837


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Throughout Southeast Asia, understandings of good and evil, right and wrong have historically been interlaced with schemes of cosmological or religious order. This chapter describes how the Khmer people, individually and collectively, have responded over the last three centuries to the way various powers have tried to reconfigure their moral universe and govern their moral conduct. An historical overview of Cambodia’s religious landscape is presented here, with a view to enhancing understanding of the continuities and discontinuities seen in contemporary Cambodia. The first part of the chapter deals with the Angkorean period of Cambodia’s history and with the arrival of Theravada Buddhism. The second part describes the French colonial period, independence, and the Khmer Rouge communist revolution.

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