Degree Name

MA in Conflict Management

First Advisor

Tatsushi Arai


As art develops more traction and consideration in the peacebuilding field, there remains a gap in the theory, research and analysis of the synthesis of the two. Currently, there are many examples of art making for peacebuilding in recent post war societies. For Cambodians, 31 years after the genocide, peacebuilding and reconciliation remains unfinished. Even more absent is looking at the potential of art making for reconciliation and peacebuilding.

The objective of this inquiry is to illustrate the possible relationship between art and reconciliation /healing through the personal opinions and experiences of three artists. As a Cambodian genocide survivor and refugee, this inquiry emerges from ten years of personal exploration of reconciliation practices. I include my personal voice and experiences throughout the empirical inquiry as a point of departure for discussion and to contextualize. Nevertheless, this paper explores reconciliation and art in a larger societal level.

The main conclusions from this research are 1) Art can be an effective means to affirm one’s experiences 2) Art can serve as an important vehicle to witness and acknowledge other’s experiences 3) Contextualizing the art is important to decreasing the disconnection between the artist’s intent and audience’s reaction. Suggestions for further research are 1) Under what conditions can art most likely foster reconciliation/healing and reduce the discrepancy between the artist’s intention and audience’s interpretation 2) What preventive measures can reduce the risks of retraumatization while addressing painful past through art, and 3) under what conditions can being a witness be counterproductive to acknowledgement and validation of other’s experiences.


Art Practice | Peace and Conflict Studies


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