Winner of the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, Survivors follows the saga of Cambodian refugees striving to distance themselves from a series of cataclysmic events in their homeland. Sucheng Chan tracks not only the Cambodians’ fight for life lives but also their battle for self-definition in new American surroundings.
Drawing on interviews with more than fifty community leaders, a hundred government officials, and staff members in volunteer agencies, Chan begins with the Cambodians’ experiences under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, following them through escape to refugee camps in Thailand and finally to the United States, where they try to build new lives in the wake of massive trauma. Their struggle becomes primarily economic as they continue to negotiate new cultures and deal with rapidly changing gender and intergenerational relations within their own families. Poverty, crime, and racial discrimination all have an impact on their experiences in America, and each is examined in depth.