Date Available


Year of Publication


Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Deborah L. Crooks


In this thesis I describe Khmers' negotiations of circumstances surroundingthe disassembly, reconstruction, and redefinition of Khmer identity fromtheir homeland in Cambodia to a traditional Khmer village recreated in theUnited States. Using a framework derived from a constructivist perspective,I have placed processes of negotiation and identity transformation withinthe lived context of Khmers' lives. Thus, a holistic understanding of theinterrelatedness of multiple changes in Khmerness is made possible.Ethnographic data collected between 1997 and 1999, through participantobservationand interviews, inform this study. Findings from this studyreveal three levels of identity transformation as told by members of a smallKhmer village established along the U. S. Gulf of Mexico. However, thesethree levels of transformation are not mutually exclusive nor are theynecessarily sequential. Each transformation of Khmers' identitiesconstitutes permeable aggregates of other past and continuingdisassemblies, reconstructions and redefinitions of Khmerness. Findingsfrom this study demonstrate that Khmer identity shifts and is transformedby past and present experiences and with their changing circumstances,from endangered Cambodian, to refugees, to re-established Khmers inAmerica.