Profile | Lindsay C. French

Lindsay French




Lindsay French is Associate Professor of Anthropology in RISD’s Department of History, Philosophy + the Social Sciences. Her research interests focus on post-Pol Pot Cambodia and the process of social and cultural reconstruction in the aftermath of war, genocide, and international isolation. Her graduate studies were in the field of medical anthropology. Current work focuses on the generation of Cambodians born after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, for whom genocide is legacy not personal history. More generally, she is interested in the legacies of social and cultural trauma; migration, both voluntary and forced; Buddhism and the role of religion in everyday life; the political economy of international development; and the challenges of representation, whether ethnographic, photographic, theatrical or curatorial.





The Appeal of Christian Evangelicalism for Cambodian Youth

Current Writing

My current writing, based on ethnographic research, looks at the appeal of Christian evangelicalism for Cambodian youth, and the profoundly different challenges they face in the 21st century from those of their parents and grandparents. This generational divide is experienced in many aspects of life; it intersects in surprising ways with a powerful international Christian evangelical movement in Cambodia.


Krom Akphiwat Phum; Rural Development in Battambang Province

Ongoing Collaboration with Peter O’Neill

Longterm engagement with an independent Cambodian rural development NGO resulted recently in a 35-minute documentary film, made with Peter O’Neill (RISD FAV), about the challenges to small farmers of a rapidly developing and largely unregulated Cambodian economy. The film profiles the work of a dedicated group of village organizers, committed to local empowerment as a means to rural development.


Neighborhoods: History of Inhabitations


In the context of several different classes, my students and I have begun exploring Providence neighborhoods, the history of their inhabitation, and different ways of representing these life experiences though oral history.


Cultures of Trauma


Commentary on “Cultures of Trauma”, IN: Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, (28:2) June 2004 (pp. 211-220). This special issue looks at the internationalization of the psychiatric diagnosis of PTSD, and offers four ethnographic analyses of complex social and cultural “traumas”, considering the way the discourse of trauma is deployed (or not) in varying historical, political, economic and institutional settings. My commentary considers the ways that the discourse of trauma is and is not useful to those who are suffering in these examples.


Exhibiting Terror


“Exhibiting Terror” IN: Truth Claims: Representation and Human Rights. Mark Bradley and Patrice Petro, eds. Rutgers University Press, June 2002 (pp.131-155). This chapter looks at the intersection of different moral worlds in the exhibition of Khmer Rouge prison mugshots in the Museum of Modern Art in New York in the 1990s.


Hierarchies of Value at Angkor Wat


“Hierarchies of Value at Angkor Wat” IN: Ethnos (64:2) June 1999, (pp. 170-191), a special issue focused on the circulation of objects and meanings entitled “Objects On The Loose”. This paper explores the theft of antiquities from the Angkor temples, exposing the links between local thieves, regional traders, and the international antiquities market. “Value” is determined by the local economies at each step in the process; by the time these pieces arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Getty they have acquired new meanings and pricetags unimaginable at their source.


The Political Economy of Injury and Compassion: Amputees on the Thai-Cambodia Border


“The Political Economy of Injury and Compassion: Amputees on the Thai
-Cambodia Border” IN: Embodiment and Experience: The Existential Ground of Culture and Self, Thomas J. Csordas, editor, Cambridge University Press, 1994 (pp. 69-99). This chapter looks at how Cambodians regarded the large number of amputees in their midst, at the tail end of 40+ years of armed conflict in which landmines were a favored weapon of war. It points to the evolution of attitudes toward the handicapped, shaped in part by the existence of opportunities for amputees to develop new skills and remunerative employment.



Contact Lindsay C. French