Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Pollie Bith-Melander
New Documentary Film
by Dr. Pollie Bith-Melander
exiled is an ethnographic film on the deportation of Southeast Asian Refugees. Directed by Brian Cimagala, the 40-minute documentary is based on Dr. Pollie Bith-Melander’s 2019-2020 research project, Exiled Once Again. It explores the myriad struggles of Cambodian refugees as they survived the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge, relocation to the U.S., and navigating the criminal justice and immigration systems.
With Sopanha “Soup” Chheang and Dr. Pollie Bith-Melander as the focal characters of the film, this film sheds light on the challenges faced by Southeast Asian refugees, specifically Generation 1.5. The film effectively explores how American involvement in Vietnam and the fear of communism (1950s-1970s), socio-economics and political attitudes (1980s and 1990s), and current policies and attitudes towards criminal justice and immigration have affected these communities, and have funneled many individuals into the criminal and immigration systems. The film weaves complex histories and personal stories into a compelling and cohesive narrative. It also delves into the personal struggles of individuals (i.e., Soup and Dr. Pollie) in order to examine the struggles of the larger community, and explores larger issues such as American geopolitical intervention, political shifts through the decades, and American identity.
About Dr. Pollie Bith-Melander
Dr, Pollie Bith-Melander, PhD, MSW, ASW is an Assistant Professor at the California State University Stanislaus, Social Work Department. She received her MA (1998) and PhD in Medical Anthropology (2004) from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her PhD dissertation was titled, “Mango Illness”: Health Decisions and the Use of Biomedical and Traditional Therapies in Cambodia. Congratulations Dr. Pollie on such an intimate, poignant and relevant film.