Research Programs: Faculty Research Awards

Period of Performance

8/1/2004 - 7/31/2005

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

A History of the Cambodians in Long Beach, California

FAIN: HR-50043-04

Susan Anne Needham
California State University, Dominguez Hills (Carson, CA 90747-0001)

I am applying for an NEH Faculty Research Award for 10-12 months to devote to writing a book on the history of Cambodians in Long Beach. Through rich, in-depth interviews and observations compiled over a 16 year period, this book will chronicle the community's development from a small enclave of exchange students in the 1950s to the symbolic and actual center of the Cambodian diaspora in the 1990s. Focusing on three interrelated areas of Cambodian culture which have proven to be critical for the Cambodian people in exile: Buddhism, language, and performing arts, this book will critically examine ways in which social, economic and political events and policies in Cambodia and the United States affected individual lives and the reproduction and transformation of Cambodian expressive culture here. Few scholarly works have examined the historical formation of Cambodian communities in the world and none have yet been written about this, the largest and most significant, community in the Cambodian diaspora. As a study of the historical development of a transnational community, this book's main contribution to the humanities is in providing a detailed examination of the processes of transnationalism as they occurred in a particular refugee community in the United States. Transnationalism promises to have a profound impact on conventional American notions of, and approaches to, the immigrant experience, assimilation and citizenship. This book will contribute to our understanding of this new immigrant phenomena and provide a case study for future comparative studies.