Update you browser

For the best experience, we recommend you update your browser. Visit our accessibility page for a list of supported browsers. Alternatively, you can continue using your current browser by closing this message.

Silk and Post-Conflict Cambodia: Embodied Practices and Global and Local Dynamics of Heritage and Knowledge Transference (1991–2018)

My thesis examines silk in terms of craft, heritage and use in contemporary Cambodia under the perspective of a history of trade, conflict, loss, and foreign influence. In Cambodia, silk weaving developed into a cottage activity since the twelfth century, producing ceremonial textiles for the domestic market and trade. The Khmer Rouge regime, which claimed close to two million lives between 1975 and 1979, heavily impacted this ancestral craft by impeding silk yarn production, weaving, and skills transmission. The country’s slow reconstruction boosted by the reopening of foreign investment in the 1990s has deeply modified its cultural landscape. How to sustain threads of knowledge and cultural identity in a post-conflict context? Through several periods of fieldwork in Cambodia and Long Beach, California, combining ethnographic methodologies, interviews and Action Research, this thesis produces its own base of primary oral and visual resources. The dynamics of rupture and revival of cultural practices and knowledge redefined under local and global tensions are investigated through the scope of silk. In doing so, the position of silk in Cambodia and its global diaspora since the fall of the destructive Khmer Rouge regime opens the way to a polyvocal exploration that includes local weavers, company owners, international sponsors, and consumers.

Key details

School, Centre or Area



  • Techne - AHRC


More about Magali

I am a French Vietnamese design historian, lecturer, documentarist with a background in textile design and a specific focus on Southeast Asian textiles and dress, indigenous craft cultures, and diasporic communities.

A Fulbright fellow, I was a visiting research student in 2014-2015 at the MA programme Fashion and Textile Studies, History, Theory and Museum Practice at the Fashion Institute of Technology of New York, followed by a one-year fellowship in Curatorial Textiles at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institute. Before that, I received an MFA in Textile Design at the National School of Decorative Arts Paris (ENSAD) and a BA in Visual Communication at ENSAAMA Olivier de Serres Paris.
I am currently completing my PhD at the Royal College of Art in the History of Design Department researching on the dynamics of Cambodian silk heritage ; directing/developing documentary films ; and teaching as an adjunct instructor in textile history, dress and textiles in world cultures and fashion theory in MA programs: at NYU Costume Studies and FIT Fashion and Textile Studies. Since 2018 I am the editor of the Silk Unravelled Newsletter.

2014–15 Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York - Fulbright Fellowship - MA Fashion and Textile Studies, History, Theory and Museum Practice,

2006 Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs (ENSAD), Paris - MFA Textile Design

2004 Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et Métiers d'Arts (ENSAAMA), Paris - BA Visual Communication

2010–present Freelance writer (Selvedge Magazine, Culture 360 / ASEF Foundation, Bloomsbury Design Library Encyclopedia)

2018–22 NYU Costume Studies - Lecturer in Textile History and Dress and Textiles in World Cultures

2019–22 FIT Fashion and Textile Studies - Lecturer in Dress and Textiles in World Cultures and Fashion Theory

2015–16 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum - Research and curatorial fellow in Textiles

2013–20 Ateliers Monde non-profit agency - Co-founder, Curator and Art Director

2012–13 France Ô - Reporter on South East Asian topics for the TV show Ô FEMININ

2007–10 Kenzo Paris - Textile Designer

2018 Young Professional Awards, Textile Society of America

2017 Doctorate Research Grant, Pasold Foundation,

2015 Arthur King Peters Memorial Award, Fulbright Program, USA

2014–15 Fulbright Fellowship, Fulbright Program French Commission

2014 French Fulbright Alumni Association Grant

Main Funder

Techne - Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Additional Funding

Pasold Foundation research grant

Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient (EFEO) field research grant


2020 Production of the video 'Songket, Batik, Ikat' for the exhibition Muslim Contemporary Fashions, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum

July-September 2017 La Tisserie, Brandérion, France, Paroles d'Artisans, Traditions Textiles du Moyen Atlas Marocain

July 2017 George Town Festival, Penang, Malaysia, Golden Silk photography series, Penang National Museum

May-June 2017 ARAM GALLERY, London: On the Line (British Council and RCA)

July-September 2016 La Tisserie, Brandérion, France, Krama, Etoffe d'Identité

'L'Afrique, terre d'abondance textile' in Modes et vêtements. Retour aux textes – INHA Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art et le Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris (Sep 2020)

THE CREATIVE RESOURCE GUIDE: Crafting Laos and Cambodia, Culture360 ASEF Foundation (May 2019)

Artisans Angkor Reclaiming Cambodian Silk Crafts under French Patronage (1992-2017) Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice 7:1 (2019)

'Shreds of Evidence: Textile and Clothing Remains at Tuol Sleng' Mémoires en Jeu (2018)

Fragile Beasts Coloring Book, co-authored with C. Condell, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum (2016)

06/2021 Lecture on Cambodian silk history - Institut Français du Cambodge, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

10/2020 Panelist ‘Embodied practice and shifting identities: Silk weaving as a Cambodian refugee during and after the Khmer Rouge regime’, Textile Society of America Symposium (online)

12/2019 Invited Speaker ‘New forms of silk weaving apprenticeship in contemporary rural Cambodia' Teaching Textiles Conference, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

09/2018 Invited Speaker ‘Artisans Angkor: Reclaiming Cambodian Silk Crafts under French Patronage’, Textile Society of America Symposium,Vancouver, Canada

05/2017 Lecture on Cambodian silk, Textile Anthropology Seminar, Quai Branly Museum, Paris, France

03/2015 Lecture on Cambodian silk, Khemara Khmer Cultural Centre, Montreal, Canada