It was five years ago almost day to day… A team of inspired journalists from Cambodia (a fix of foreigners and Cambodians) launched the very first online news magazine on / in the country: Kaset. And then, they invited me to come on board, with a monthly column on Chams… The Clichés Chams.
The idea was well fitted in the editorial line of Kaset: to provide non-partisan, accurate and well documented information going beyond borders. Social, spatial and language borders as the access was totally virtual, totally free, and trilingual: in French, Khmer and English. But there were other borders the team wanted to cross: the usual, the admitted, the common knowledge… From daily news to cultural insights, from word of the mouth to society analysis, from some of the best Cambodian and Cambodia based photographers visual angles, to interactive forums and comments taking place right there, Kaset was aiming to go deeper, and to provide a refreshing perspective on everything Cambodia.
It was bright, it was innovative, and it was crafted by a team of professionals who knew their country and wanted to share the best information on it. Needless to say, that their invitation was not only a challenge I took with great pleasure but also I have to say with honor!
The Clichés Chams – or the Chams Clichés in English – aimed to go beyond those borders we usually put around the Chams and Muslims in Cambodia. Through a series of simple portraits it hoped to show another face of the Chams: more diverse, more complex, more fascinating … more real.
Unfortunately, Kaset was maybe a little too innovative for its time, and ended. I wish it was born 5 years later, at a time where coffee shops in Phnom Penh are full of tech savvy 3G / iPad / social networks with the hunger to be informed. At a time where non-partisan, accurate and well documented information is so unavailable in Phnom Penh coffee shops, and elsewhere…
The former Kaset website is now gone, and with it its archives. And of course, at the time, I didn’t really take ‘save as’ and ‘back up’ for serious, grown up activities… So when recently out of nowhere, some archives popped up online, I did act as an adult and saved, and backed up… And since I was at it, why not revive them for just a bit, and share them again?
Starting today, you will get your monthly copy of the Clichés Chams | Chams Clichés every third Friday of the month… Just as it used to be! Those are five years old, they may be dusty, a bit clumsy, but yet I like the idea that they are back in this ‘out-there-virtuality’. Unfortunately not everything has been salvaged, and there is quite a bit missing such as some of the original pictures (and I will mention it when it is the case), or the Khmer translations. Apologies.
Each Cliché Cham | Cham Cliché was carefully prepared, homemade, with love… But I wasn’t alone in the kitchen. A whole team of passionate individuals was cooking with me… This is my way to thank them, for what they did, and whatever they are doing now, whatever they will do in the future. Therefore many thanks to Laurent Le Gouanvic, John Vink, Véronique Ellul, Ji-Sook Lee, An Sopheak, Vandy Ratana and very specially, Stéphanie Gée.
Ithaca, NY, August 16, 2013, Emiko Stock.
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