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  • Artisans Angkor: Reclaiming Cambodian silk crafts under French patronage (1992–2017)

Berthon, Magali An, 2019, Journal Article, Artisans Angkor: Reclaiming Cambodian silk crafts under French patronage (1992–2017) Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice, 7 (1). pp. 78-103. ISSN 2051-1787

Abstract or Description:

Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords that granted a return to a relative political stability in Cambodia, the non-profit organization Les Chantiers Ecoles was launched with the support of the European Union to revive local traditional crafts and sericulture that had nearly vanished under the Khmer Rouge regime. This vocational institute was the result of a cooperation between the French and the Cambodian government. It provided training to disadvantaged young villagers of Siem Reap’s area in polychromic woodwork, stone carving, metal, lacquerware, and silk weaving. Eventually, the project turned into a social enterprise under the French name Artisans Angkor. Drawing its inspiration from the surrounding archaeological splendors of Angkor Wat, the company emphasizes its authentic making processes. Artisans Angkor welcomes tourists in its silk farm near Siem Reap, using this production site as a showcase for sericulture from silkworms breeding to weaving, promoting the revival of indigenous golden silk while selling a wide range of souvenirs goods. Relying on the performative value of silk craft practices, Artisans Angkor has developed an engaging storytelling, an educational and marketing tool which elevates crafts as tokens of Cambodian cultural identity. Praised by the Cambodians who consider the brand as a national success, the enterprise has however kept a French leadership. Tracing the company’s history, this paper examines to which extent Artisan Angkor follows the definition of a Transnational Artisan Partnership developed by anthropologist Susan Falls and how it pertains to a form of soft power for the French. Through the analysis of its aesthetic and discourses, this case study highlights the project’s hybrid nature and demonstrates how it relates to the colonial model of the School of Cambodian Arts implemented in 1920 under the French Protectorate to promote Cambodian crafts.

Official URL: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20511...
Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V200 History by area > V240 Asian History > V243 South East Asian History
Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design > W231 Textile Design
Creative Arts and Design > W700 Crafts > W710 Fabric and Leather Crafts > W714 Weaving
School or Centre: School of Arts & Humanities
Funders: AHRC
Identification Number or DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/20511787.2019.1587132
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2020 09:45
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2020 09:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4398
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