HomeCLA NewsEnvironmental Humanities Series Kicks Off with Cambodian Genocide Lecture

Environmental Humanities Series Kicks Off with Cambodian Genocide Lecture

By Melinda Rosenthal

The Center for the Humanities hosted its inaugural Environmental Humanities lecture in October. The hour-long lecture featured

James A. Tyner, geography professor at Kent State University, who spoke in Gladfelter Hall’s Chat Lounge about the genocide in Cambodia.

The discussion began with statistics of the Cambodian Genocide. While many people believe that nearly 14,000 people were detained in S21 and only seven survived, Tyner explained that about 200 were detained and all survived.

Tyner spoke about the role nature played in the genocide, comparing and contrasting it with the Marxist idea of nature. Marx viewed nature as abstract while the Khmer Rouge, the group responsible for the genocide, saw nature as a concrete idea. As such, the Khmer Rouge employed a highly organized method to increase rice production. Those who could not meet the newly tripled quotas were arrested, tortured and executed.

“It was impractical and it wouldn’t work,” Tyner said.

Following the lecture, Tyner held a brief question and answer session. Attendees discussed Marx throughout history and Tyner explained that people debate caricatures of Marx instead of taking him by his word. “We have inherited a caricature of Marx,” he said.

Rickie Sanders, a geographer attending the lecture, was excited to hear Tyner speak. “I’ve read some of his books and he works in very interesting topics and is very prolific and I wanted to hear him talk,” Sanders said. “I like the mental muscle you have to employ when you hear him talk.”

The next Environmental Humanities lecture is scheduled for November 14 in Gladfelter hall, floor 10. It will feature Princeton History Professor Emmanuel Kreike and is titled “Environmental Infrastructure in African History: The Myth of Natural Resource Management in Namibia.”