An Economic History of Cambodia in the Twentieth Century

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By Margaret Slocomb

The course of economic change in twentieth century Cambodia was marked by a series of deliberate "conscious human efforts" that were typically extreme and ideologically driven. While colonization, protracted war and violent revolution are commonly blamed for Cambodia's failure to modernize its economy in the twentieth century, Margaret Slocomb's Economic History of Cambodia in the Twentieth Century questions whether these circumstances changed the underlying structures and relations of production. She also asks whether economic factors in some way instigated war and revolution. In exploring these issues, the book tracks the erratic path taken by Cambodia's political elite and earlier colonial rulers to develop a national economy. The book closes around 2005, by which time Cambodia had be reintegrated into both the regional and into the global economy as a fully-fledged member of the World Trade Organization.

To document Cambodia's path towards a modern economy, the author draws on resources from the State Archives of Cambodia not previously referenced in scholarly texts. The book provides information that is academically important but is also relevant to investors, aid workers and development specialists seeking to understand the shift from a traditional to a modern market economy.

"This economic history provides a first-rate introduction to the contemporary Cambodian economy for those with a limited knowledge of the country, while for those who have a more extensive knowledge of the economy it offers a systematic analysis of the various forces and influences that have shaped and continue to shape the present-day economy. In addition, there are many insights offered in the analysis that would repay further and deeper study by those interested in understanding more about Cambodia and its development." - Keith Carpenter

"This volume, by a historian with almost 20 years of experience on the ground, is the first serious attempt to write the economic history of twentieth century Cambodia...Dr Slocomb has provided an invaluable service to anybody interested in Cambodia. She is to be congratulated for filling many gaps, while also paving the way for others to toil productively in this field." - Hal Hill

"Dr. Slocomb has produced the first modern book-length study of Cambodia explicitly directed towards the country's economic history...Dr. Slocomb's work will encourage others to research further the economic history of Cambodia. We must be grateful to the author for venturing into a little-explored area, and her book will serve as a significant stepping stone for research into Cambodia's economic past." - Porphant Ouyyanont 

Margaret Slocomb holds a PhD in history from the University of Queensland. An education specialist dealing with teacher training and curriculum development, she worked with international aid organizations and local civil society groups in Cambodia for more than a decade starting in 1988.

Publication Year: 2010
368 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-499-9, Paperback

NUS Press