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The Khmer Rouge propaganda archives, 1975-1979: a cinematic and historical analysis

Grant number: 23/05509-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2024
Effective date (End): December 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Linguistics, Literature and Arts - Arts - Cinema
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Victorio Morettin
Grantee:Tomyo Costa Ito
Host Institution: Escola de Comunicações e Artes (ECA). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project aims to analyze the mise-en-scène of the propaganda films of the Khmer Rouge regime, produced between 1975 and 1979 in Cambodia. This archival material is an important part of the construction of history and memory about the Cambodian genocide. The goal is to show, in the analysis of these propaganda films, the tensions that emerge between the idealist vision of a new society, the violence of the regime's ideology, and the traces of resistance of the people in the images. The analysis of the films will be conducted through a dialogue between documents and extrafilmic references, initially associating the images of propaganda to the historiographical studies on Cambodia by western authors such as Ben Kiernan and Elizabeth Becker. They will then be associated with studies on the ideology of the Khmer Rouge regime, such as the research of the Cambodian historian Keo Duong and the studies of propaganda slogans, by Henri Locard. Crucial in this work of analysis will be the documentaries of Cambodian filmmaker Rithy Panh, whose ways of looking at images produce rearrangements of the mise-en-scène of propaganda. The final association is to the testimonies of the victims of the regime, through the compilation by François Panchoud, in addition to the testimonial narratives published in book, such as those of Rithy Panh himself, Vann Nath and Ly Heng. The research will be structured by a theoretical-analytical approach based on the writings of Eduardo Morettin, Vicente Sanchez-Biosca, Sylvie Lindeperg and Georges Didi-Huberman in their studies of archival images of authoritarian regimes. Film analysis and document research will be combined to analyze the conditions of production, examining the initial intentions of discursive strategies and recognizing what escapes from them in the Khmer Rouge propaganda films. (AU)

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