Document Type



Published in: Journal of Third World Studies, Spring2005, Vol. 22 Issue 1, p135-150.


This paper examines the effects of Cambodian geography in two Khmer polities: Funan, an empire that occupied the southeastern portions of modern-day Cambodia and Vietnam during the early centuries A.D., and Democratic Kampuchea, a Cambodian state that existed from April 17, 1975, until the Vietnamese invasion of December 25, 1978. In the construction of a national identity, a community must possess a tradition of a territory that the community regards as its ancestral home. The tradition of a territory provides a chronological anchor for the supposed authentic and pristine origins of the nation. As demonstrated by myth, propaganda, and policies, the same territorial tradition was present in both Funan and Democratic Kampuchea.