New Director Named to Cambodian Genocide Program

The director of the Genocide Studies Program at the Yale Center for International and Area Studies, Professor Ben Kiernan, has announced the appointment of Susan E. Cook as director of Yale’s Cambodian Genocide Program (CGP), an independent program funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Cook will assume the full-time position effective May 15. She will take over the CGP’s administration, including coordination of the program’s research and technical staff at Yale, its Documentation Project at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, and its funding of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, in Phnom Penh.

“Susan Cook’s considerable talents, and her experience both in Cambodia and with the CGP at Yale, as well as her knowledge of the broader issues relating to genocide, made her an excellent choice for the position,” said Kiernan, who founded the CGP in 1994 and will continue as its director until May.

“I am delighted that we have been able to strengthen the CGP in this way, given the possibility of an international tribunal to judge the crimes of the Khmer Rouge regime. The CGP will continue to assist in the preparations for a legal accounting of what happened and to build on its extensive historical documentation and other information resources relating to the Khmer Rouge period.”

In January 1999, the CGP substantially expanded its bilingual Cambodian Genocide Data Bases, and added extensive new translations of original Khmer Rouge documents to its highly acclaimed World Wide Website (

Cook worked in Cambodia in 1992-93 as information officer for Redd Barna, Norwegian Save the Children. In 1994 she returned to Phnom Penh to pursue her study of the Khmer language with the support of the Yale Council on Southeast Asia Studies. She also participated in the publication of The United Nations in Cambodia, 1991-1995 (New York, 1995). In 1996-97, she worked for the Cambodian Genocide Program and in 1997-98 for the Yale Center for International and Area Studies.

While living in Botswana from 1989 to 1991, Cook worked among the Khoi-San of the Kalahari Desert. In 1995 and 1996-7, she conducted field research in South Africa and Rwanda. She is the author of “Documenting Genocide: Cambodia’s Lessons for Rwanda” and other publications in Africa Today. She co-authored “The Linguistic Formulation of Emotion in Rwanda: Practical Implications for a Post-Genocidal Society,‘ “and “Broadcasting Racism, Reaping Genocide: RTLM in Rwanda.”

Her Yale University doctoral dissertation in anthropology examines the linguistics of contemporary social change in the Tswana region of South Africa. She is a participant in research projects conducted by the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School, a sponsor of the Cambodian Genocide Program.

In June, Kiernan will take up a Visiting Research Fellowship at Melbourne University, Australia, to work on a history of 20th-century state-sponsored mass murder. Besides teaching Southeast Asian history at Yale, Kiernan will continue to focus his attention on courses on comparative genocide, and on running the Genocide Studies Program (GSP), which he established in 1998. The GSP is an inter-disciplinary, inter-regional program funded by the Mellon Foundation, which researches comparative and policy issues relating to the phenomenon of genocide.

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