Khao I Dang: Cambodian Refugees and the Politics of Professionalizing Humanitarian Action
Using archival research, oral history interviews, and qualitative spatial analysis, my dissertation project explores the history and legacies of the Khao I Dang camp for Cambodian refugees. Established near the Thai–Cambodian border by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in the wake of the Cambodian genocide, Khao I Dang had a peak population of 140,000 and was, in many ways, the hub of the Cambodian relief operation.
I am studying how the camp was planned, designed, and administered by UN officials, relief workers, and refugees, with a focus on the uptake, translation, and reworking of urban planning and development paradigms in Khao I Dang, including notions of community-based participation and self-help. I further consider how the Cambodian relief operation in Thailand, and particularly in Khao I Dang, has influenced the professionalization of humanitarian action through the development of principles, guidelines, and standards in major handbooks and manuals, such as the UNHCR Handbook for Emergencies.
Rebuilding Khao I Dang
This oral history project (rebuildingkid.com) explores how Khao I Dang is remembered by UN officials, relief workers, and refugees. The project is an extension of my dissertation project.