The Tragedy f Cambodian istory power and merit, s well as their pposites-poverty, owerlessness, and spiritual hortcomings. Of these easons he first s probably he most mportant. Modern Cambodian history as been shaped to a large xtent y the fact hat its capital, Phnom Penh, ies on a cultural fault-line etween he n- dianized, Theravada Buddhist ulture f Thailand and the Sinicized, Confucian ulture f Vietnam. Cambodia itself, f course, was until recently Theravada kingdom; ut its capital region, where most of its people live, has always been more accessible to Saigon than to Bangkok. These facts ed to the country eing nvaded by the Thai (ostensibly o free Cambodia from Vietnamese protection) n 1811, 1833 and 1840.1 etween 1834 nd 1847, much of the country as oc- cupied by the Vietnamese; Cambodia returned o Thai protection between 1847 and the mposition f French hegemony
n 1863. Until gaining ndependence n 1953, Cambodia, unlike her large neigh- bours, had been exploited the Khmer phrase, ih joan, means liter- ally, "ridden on and kicked") nd colonized for hundred nd fifty years. In the colonial era, Cambodia's foreign rade and internal con- omy were geared to the needs of the French n Indo-China as a whole, and to the export economy of southern Vietnam (Cochin- China) in particular. One price the Cambodians paid for what the French called their "docility" was the highest per capita taxes in Indo-China. Moreover, while the French llowed governing
lites, n- cluding he monarchy, o function eremonially, he bureaucracy was largely taffed ith French-speaking ietnamese.2 t is not surprising, therefore, hat Cambodians associate periods of powerlessness ith periods f Vietnamese ontrol, nd periods f nationalist nrest such as the 1840s, 1970-72 r 1976-78) with killing Vietnamese. Little of this animosity would have arisen, perhaps, f Cambodia's demo- graphic entre f gravity ad remained n the northwestern art of
the country ear the site of Angkor, eyond the reach of the Viet- namese but accessible to the post-Angkorean hai -kingdoms of Ayudhya nd Bangkok. Turning to the weight f Cambodia's past, one of the intriguing features f nineteenth-century ambodian history s the collective amnesia of the population regarding ts relationship o Angkor. Be-
' For a detailed treatment f this period, ee David P. Chandler, Cambodia efore he rench: Politics n Tributary ingdom, 794-1847 Ann Arbor: University icrofilms, 974).
See, for xample, France. Archives 'outremer Aix en Provence) Cambodge 3 E 11 (2), Re- port from ompong Chhnang, November,