Thierry Cruvellier

View on Amazon

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] What is justice for a man who supervised the interrogation and killing of thousands?  Especially a man who now claims to be a Christian and to be, at least in some ways and cases, repentant for his crimes?

Thierry Cruvellier has written a fascinating book about the trial of ‘Duch’ the director of the S-21 prison and  interrogation center in Cambodia during the rule of the Khmer Rouge.  Cruvellier watched virtually the entire trial and interviewed many of the participants and observers.  The Master of Confessions: The Making of a Khmer of Rouge Torturer (Ecco, 2014) is both history and philosophy, a deeply moving attempt to understand Duch and his actions.  Cruvellier offers the reader an finely crafted narrative of S-21, of the life of Duch and of the place Duch occupied in a genocidal structure.  But he also wrestles with deeply philosophical questions about our ability to really understand other people’s actions, about the nature of justice in the aftermath of mass violence, and about the role of courts and trials. It’s a book that gets under your skin in the best kind of way.

A journalist, Cruvellier earlier wrote a similar account of witnessing the trial of perpetrators from the Rwandan genocide.  As we discuss in the interview, the experience of listening to accounts of atrocities day after day has taken a toll on him, as it would on anyone.   But the book that resulted is profoundly moving and unsettling.  I hope our discussion offers a taste of the ideas and understanding his book offers.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Lynette J. ChuaMobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State

October 15, 2014

Singapore has a well-deserved reputation as a state that stifles dissent and polices activism. But as Lynette Chua shows in Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State (Temple University Press, 2014), repressive government nowhere goes unchallenged, even if the forms that resistance takes are not manifest. Turning away from social movement theory [...]

Read the full article →

Tyrell HaberkornRevolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand

September 13, 2014

In a foreword to Tyrell Haberkorn’s first book, Revolution Interrupted: Farmers, Students, Law and Violence in Northern Thailand (Wisconsin University Press, 2011), Thongchai Winichakul observes, “Haberkorn writes to prevent the fading of life to oblivion, recounting stories that bring the forgotten back to life.” She does this and more. By recalling the forgotten story of [...]

Read the full article →

Tine M. GammeltoftHaunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam

July 22, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in East Asian Studies] Tine Gammeltoft’s new book explores the process of reproductive decision making in contemporary Hanoi. Haunting Images: A Cultural Account of Selective Reproduction in Vietnam (University of California Press, 2014) develops an anthropology of belonging, paying special attention to the ways that women and their communities understand and make decisions based on [...]

Read the full article →

Rachel RinaldoMobilizing Piety: Islam and Feminism in Indonesia

June 23, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Islamic Studies] Are Islam and feminism inherently at odds? Is there a contradiction between piety and gender justice? This is the guiding theme for Rachel Rinaldo, professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia, in her book Mobilizing Piety: Islam and Feminism in Indonesia (Oxford University Press, 2013). After more than eighteen months of fieldwork [...]

Read the full article →

Peter Maguire and Mike RitterThai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade

March 29, 2014

[Cross-posted from New Books in Terrorism and Organized Crime] Reading Peter Maguire and Mike Ritter‘s book Thai Stick: Surfers, Scammers and the Untold Story of the Marijuana Trade (Columbia Press, 2013) is the most fun I have had doing this podcast. Maguire makes a point during the interview that police officers preferred to arrest marijuana smugglers because they were so laid back and [...]

Read the full article →

Robyn RodriguezMigrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World

October 30, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Book in Asian American Studies] While it has become typical to see Filipina/o migrants working in nursing or domestic work in the United States, many are surprised to see Filipina/os doing the same work in Hong Kong, Israel, and Dubai. Indeed, Filipina/o workers are ubiquitous around the globe, and may be the world’s first truly [...]

Read the full article →

Eric JenningsImperial Heights: Dalat and the Making and Undoing of French Indochina

October 29, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in French Studies] There is a city in the Southern hills of Vietnam where honeymooners travel each year to affirm their love at high altitude, breathing in the alpine air and soaking in the legacies of French colonialism. Developed by the French in the nineteenth century, Dalat remains a contemporary tourist destination fully [...]

Read the full article →

Deborah Mayersen and Annie PohlmanGenocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia: Legacies and Prevention

October 27, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Books in Genocide Studies] Genocide studies has been a growth field for a couple of decades.  Books and articles have appeared steadily, universities have created programs and centers and the broader public has become increasingly interested in the subject. Nevertheless, there remain some aspects of the field and some geographic regions that remain dramatically understudied. [...]

Read the full article →

Michael LaffanThe Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past

July 22, 2013

[Cross-posted from New Book in Islamic Studies] Indonesia is often highlighted as having the right kind of Islam, ‘moderate’ and ‘peaceful.’ Whether that remains true (if it ever was a reality) will be tested in the future but what about the past? How did we end up with this picture of Islam in Indonesia? Michael Laffan, Professor [...]

Read the full article →