Friday, September 19, 2008
Trudy Jacobsen convinced the audience at tonight's book-signing session at Monument Books that Cambodian women have a more illustrious heritage than they're usually given credit for. She's rewritten history with the research for her book Lost Goddesses: The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History and brings a new focus on the power Khmer women have wielded in the past and which they should aim to repeat in the future. Her own experiences in Cambodia over the last twenty years provided the impetus to delve into topics such as Cbpah Srei, the Code of conduct for women, which was introduced by King Ang Duong in the 19th century and has resurfaced in the last two decades, effectively making women subservient to Khmer men. When asked, Jacobsen had no hesitation in naming Ang Mei as her favourite woman in Khmer history; crowned Queen whilst still her in teens, she was later imprisoned at Oudong and reportedly went mad. After London and Melbourne, this was Jacobsen's third launch of her book, published by NIAS Press, and she confided to the well-attended event that her next book will be a comparison of sexual contracts in Cambodia and Burma. In the meantime, her fervent hope is that Lost Goddesses will be translated into the Khmer language so Cambodian women can take heart from the strength and purpose of their predecessors.