Ethics of Independence: Buddhist Cosmopolitanism in Cambodia, 1953 to 1970


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies


This dissertation examines the ways in which Khmer intellectuals, artists, and modernizers used Buddhist ethics as a medium for expressing and shaping a new internationalism, which entered into Buddhist and popular moral discourses during the 1950s and 1960s. It argues that international efforts at building transnational and pan-Buddhist solidarities in the post-World War II reality of the Cold War, decolonization, and nation building shaped local Khmer concepts of social responsibility. Thus, the ethical ideas being transmitted through material culture and religious literature in this period were conscious of global factors, mirroring what I see as the broader Buddhist cosmopolitanism of this era. “Ethics” in this project concerns values, ideas, and practices of morality within social contexts.