Cambodia’s Other Lost City
Cities are one of the most important sites of historical interaction in world history. Within the relatively confined space of the urban center social classes, ethno-religious groups, and competing political factions are forced to engage with each other producing unique cultural forms, systems, and processes. Colonial cities present some of the most dynamic examples of this phenomenon. Southeast Asia is home to a number of cities shaped by the history of colonialism with Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, providing an ideal case study for exploring the urban colonial encounter. This documentary examines the ways in which French colonial rule shaped Phnom Penh from the late 19th century to the 1930s. In particular, the film analyzes the relationships between architecture and imperial rule, arguing that the colonial city created a unique style specific to that distinct historical moment, all the while placing this historical transformation within the larger context of Cambodian history.