Power, Resistance and Women Politicians in Cambodia

Discourses of Emancipation

by Mona Lilja

  • Published:
  • Pages: 224 pp.
  • illustrated
  • Series number: 108
Available from NIAS Press worldwide

Focuses on Cambodian female politicians and the strategies they deploy in their attempts to destabilize the cultural boundaries and hierarchies that restrain them. In particular, Lilja explores how women use discourses and identities as means of resistance, a concept only recently of wide interest among scholars studying power.

• Unique insight into the political struggles of Cambodian women.
• Extends the concept of resistance and creates a framework of analysis that will inspire researchers in other fields.

In a world where there are few women politicians, Cambodia is still noticeable as a country where strong cultural and societal forces act to subjugate women and limit their political opportunities. However, in their everyday life, Cambodian women do try to improve their situ-ation and increase their political power, not least via manifold strategies of resistance.

This book focuses on Cambodian female politicians and the strategies they deploy in their attempts to destabilize the cultural boundaries and hierarchies that restrain them. In particular, the book focuses on how women use discourses and identities as means of resistance, a concept only recently of wide interest among scholars studying power. The value of this book is thus twofold: not only does it give a unique insight into the political struggles of Cambodian women but also offers new insights to studies of power.

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Mona Lilja has a Ph. D. in Peace and Development Research and work as lecturer and researcher at the Department of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Dr Lilja has previously written about Cambodian women and their different strategies fighting an uneven distribution of power between men and women within the political sector.

Mona Lilja has a Ph. D. in Peace and Development Research and work as lecturer and researcher at the Department of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Dr Lilja has previously written about Cambodian women and their different strategies fighting an uneven distribution of power between men and women within the political sector. Currently, she is engaged in a research project on the ‘hybrid democratization’ in Cambodia. Dr Lilja’s publications on contemporary Cambodian Politics dealing with issues of power, democracy, and gender have appeared in, for example, Asian Perspectives or UN’s New Voices, New Perspectives and in a number of edited books. She is also the writer of the monograph Power, Resistance and Women Politicians in Cambodia: Discourses of Emancipation, Nias Press.

Read Mona Lilja’s blog Resistance Studies.

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by Katherine Brickell (Royal Holloway, University of London)
From journal:
International Feminist Journal of Politics, vol. 13, no. 1

 In recent years, a growing, though still limited, body of literature has begun to coalesce around the realities and complexities of women’s lives in contemporary Cambodia.

 In recent years, a growing, though still limited, body of literature has begun to coalesce around the realities and complexities of women’s lives in contemporary Cambodia. Reflecting, and contributing to this scholarly expansion of interest is the work of Mona Lilja, which centres on the social worlds of female politicians over the age of 40 in the country’s capital, Phnom Penh. The book is particularly novel in its focus on practices of resistance which are enacted by individuals, rather than through collective action via revolutions, strikes and boycotts. Evoking amore embodied approach to resistance as performance, Lilja explores how Cambodian female politicians ‘play’ with their identities, representations and discourses in order to alter stereotypes and hierarchies which tend to guard against their full participation in political life.

While having some inherent deficiencies, the book nevertheless makes a much needed analytical contribution to studies of ‘power’ in Cambodia and in doing so, complements the more historically oriented work of Trudy Jacobsen (2008) on this topic (also published by NIAS Press). Lilja’s work is conceptually rigorous, using in a sophisticated manner the work of theorists such as Foucault, Bourdieu, Butler and Bhabha. In this way, Power, Resistance and Women Politicians in Cambodia is an important corrective to much work on Cambodia that has failed to connect its analyses to mainstream and current developments in theory.

 

by Katherine Bowie, Unviersity of Wisconsin-Madison
From journal:
The Journal of Politics and Gender, Vol. 6, 2009

"Lilja’s pioneering study has begun to give prelininary form to a virtual tabula rasa, helping to lead the way for future scholarship."

"Lilja’s pioneering study has begun to give prelininary form to a virtual tabula rasa, helping to lead the way for future scholarship."

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