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The film BNGVEL: Practice-based modelling of Cambodian masculinity

Beck, Owen (2015) The film BNGVEL: Practice-based modelling of Cambodian masculinity. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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A great deal of western research on post Khmer Rouge Cambodia has been directed at the social devastation that followed the Khmer Rouge reign and on the abuse, exploitation and violence against Cambodian women and children in particular. In this discourse Cambodian men are either ignored or presented as contributing to the problems of women and children. The research in this thesis does away with such a binary perspective and assumes that the problems of Cambodian women and children will be solved only when Cambodian men are incorporated as an element of the solution. Accordingly the thesis reexamines some of the problems encountered by Cambodian women and children by considering these from the perspective of Cambodian men. The thesis does this by modelling an abstract Cambodian family unit using real life accounts from a large group of Cambodian informants and rendering these accounts as a linear narrative for a feature film entitled Bngvel (Eng. Turn).

Ethnographic data was collected and recorded over six years in a rural Cambodian context often with real-time feedback from key informants. These accounts and observations were used to construct a script depicting the life of a Cambodian father as he strives to provide for this wife and two children in both rural and urban contexts. All the recordings for the film took place on location in the rural province of Takeo, and in the capital city of Phnom Penh, using ordinary Khmer people as actors and the majority of the production crew. While the scripted account invokes many of the problems investigated by previous research, the accounts that arise from the Cambodian informants presents a picture that is much more complex than the simple victim/perpetrator narratives that characterised the earlier research. The film modelling suggests that solutions to social problems in Cambodia will be found when Cambodian men and women are able to address their problems together.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
Supervisor(s): Petkovic, Josko
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