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Catalog Archive / Spring 2022

Rise of the Brao
Ethnic Minorities in Northeastern Cambodia during Vietnamese Occupation

New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies
Alfred W. McCoy, Ian G. Baird, Katherine A. Bowie, and Anne Ruth Hansen, Series Editors

“The quality of the scholarship is high. This book makes extensive and skilled use of multiple, repeated, and lengthy interviews with key surviving ethnic minority political figures. Over time, the result of the cultivation of these unique sources has been an increasing degree of candor and provision of detail on the part of those interviewed.”
—Stephen Heder, University of London

In the early 1970s, the Khmer Rouge had become suspicious of communist Vietnam and began to persecute Cambodian ethnic groups who had ties to the country, including the Brao Amba in the northeast. Many fled north as political refugees, and some joined the Vietnamese effort to depose the Khmer Rouge a few years later. The subsequent ten-year occupation is remembered by many Cambodians as a time of further oppression, but this volume reveals an unexpected dimension of this troubled past. Trusted by the Vietnamese, the Brao were installed in positions of great authority in the new government only to gradually lose their influence when Vietnam withdrew from Cambodia.

Based on detailed research and interviews, Ian G. Baird documents this golden age of the Brao, including the voices of those who are too frequently omitted from official records. Rise of the Brao challenges scholars to look beyond the prevailing historical narratives to consider the nuanced perspectives of peripheral or marginal regions.


Ian G. Baird is an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He is the author of Dipterocarpus Wood Resin Tenure, Management and Trade: Practices of the Brao in Northeast Cambodia and the coauthor of People, Livelihoods, and Development in the Xekong River Basin, Laos.




“A fine-grained regional history of the Northeastern provinces of Cambodia, in particular Ratanakiri, during the Khmer Rouge and People’s Republic of Kampuchea periods. The book will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Cambodia and the region, and especially the varying and diverse roles of ethnic minorities within larger historical frameworks.”
—Oscar Salemink, University of Copenhagen

“A gripping account. . . . Books like Rise of the Brao do not come along all that often. It is unique in the level of detail and insight it provides into a long-overlooked dimension of one of the twentieth century’s most significant conflicts. It raises important questions about the roles played by the region’s ethnic minorities in these struggles. And it answers many of those questions in detail through a fine-grained account made possible by years of painstaking research.”
The Journal of Asian Studies

“A seminal contribution to personal, professional, community, and academic library Southeast Asian Political History collections.”
Midwest Book Review



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Also in the Series

Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom: cover depicting a misty mountain with the title text written in red font at the top of the page.

Dreams of the Hmong Kingdom
The Quest for Legitimation in French Indochina, 1850–1960
Mai Na M. Lee

Rise of the Brao: Cover showing people shaking hands in front of a building. The entire image is tinted red, with a yellow symbol depicting five towers to the right side of the page.

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New in Paperback!
August 2022
LC: 2019014806 D
392 pp. 6 x 9
26 b/w illus., 4 maps

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Paper $26.95 S
ISBN 9780299326142
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Casebound $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299326104
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