Layer-Cake Figurations and Resistance in Cambodia - Resistance and Repetition

Constructive Resistance: Repetitions, Emotions, and Time - Mona Lilja 2021

Layer-Cake Figurations and Resistance in Cambodia
Resistance and Repetition

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a French novel written by Muriel Barbery (2006). 1 The novel embraces a character study of concierge Renée Michel, who conceals her identity as a self-taught philosopher and an authority within the field of literature by appearing as an uneducated, working-class woman. Outwardly, she conforms to every stereotype of “the concierge”: she is described as fat, cantankerous, and addicted to television. However, beneath the surface, Renée embraces art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. This becomes an interesting twist, and the novel is actually named after Renée Michel, as she is described as a hedgehog with a prickly exterior who keeps her distance from people while simultaneously performing her intellectual pursuits in secret in a manner that is portrayed as elegant and solitary. Thus, Renée Michel deliberately conceals her intelligence and unexpected tastes (Lilja 2017). What are the reasons that women like Renée choose to disguise aspects of themselves?

This way of displaying certain subject positions while hiding others is not limited to Renée Michel, but also prevails in interviews with female leaders in Cambodia. These interviews expose how women’s performing within the political sphere could be seen as strategic responses to local contexts of power. Overall, their acting reveals a bodily resistance, which unfolds from the affective interpretation of contemporary discourses of gender. Female members of parliament repeat different stereotypical characteristics in order to perform as politicians. They, thereby, act in line with current expectations, still with different intentions. From this emerges the main question of the chapter: How can the navigation that these women carry out in power-loaded contexts be understood as constructive resistance?

The concept of “figurations” will serve as a point of departure in order to display the material and symbolic conditions of various subject positions, as well as the multiplicity and complexity of each human being. A figuration is created and recreated in an assemblage of encounters and interrelations (Henry et al. 2014). In different localities, these assemblages tend to create/maintain various “axes of differentiations” like class, race, ethnicity, gender, and age, which interact in the constitution of subjectivity (Braidotti 2011a, 4; Lilja 2016a). This is exemplified in this article, which display how women politicans emphasize some subject positions before others, due to different relations of power (Lilja 2017).

The focus on resistance in this chapter implies that I use the concept of figurations in a slightly different manner than, for example, Rosi Braidotti (2011a, 4), who mainly emphasizes various cartographies of power. Moreover, while Braidotti (2011a, 5) pinpoints that the notion of figurations embraces “a politically informed map that outlines our own current situated perspective in a globalized contest,” I do not demand that figurations must be “new” or manifesting due to the complexities of multiethnic globalized societies. Instead, I follow Mia Eriksson (2013), who pinpoints that we need to embrace a range of figurations of society (such as the “angry, white man”). The embracing of all kinds of figurations would make it possible for us to analyze and learn how they interact and are created in relation to each other and others (Lilja 2017).

By emphasizing different practices of self-making as a form of constructive resistance that is limited by power, this chapter contributes—in several respects—to what is already known within the social sciences. First of all, I discuss and build upon Braidotti’s (2007, 2011a, 2011b) concept of figurations, thereby contributing to the further advancement of this concept. This chapter also adds to Scott’s research by addressing practices of everyday resistance as a form of constructive resistance, which create subjectivities and practices, in discursive/material contexts. I discuss the concept of constructive resistance through displaying processes of self-reflexivity and self-making through the concept of figurations (Lilja 2017; Scott 1989).


A figuration, from Braidotti’s (2011a, 10) perspective, is a “living map, a transformative account of the self; it is no metaphor.” The concept of figurations is often promoted as a critique of the limited options presented by the representations of, for example, women and/or ethnic minorities. According to Rosi Braidotti, there is a noticeable gap between our lived experiences and “how we represent to ourselves this lived existence in theoretical terms and discourses” (2014, 182). Current discourses are marked by “an imaginative poverty” (Braidotti 2007). Using the concept of “figurations,” we are able to illuminate the complexity of women’s subjectivities and how subject positions are situated in specific material and discursive contexts. In this, figurations are mappings of situated—that is, embedded and embodied—social positions.

Figurations emerge from processes of self-formation and are to be seen as possible figures of identification. As a result, figurations can be used to reveal various processes of self-reflection and target dominant subject formations from “within.” The concept of figurations can also potentially serve as a tool to challenge earlier stereotypical accounts of women and show them in their great diversity (Lilja 2016a).

Braidotti exemplifies figurations with the “womanist,” the “lesbian,” the “cyborg,” and the “nomadic feminist.” She also proposes other, more historically specific figurations, such as the “mail-order bride” and the “illegal prostitute.” These figurations are indicative of the social and material conditions for their very existence, including the different cartographies of power that feed them (Braidotti 2007, 9; 2011b). Figurations should be viewed in all their complexity: as hybrid, contested, and multilayered. In addition, as is elaborated upon in the analytical section, they sometimes become a source of or means to constructive resistance (Lilja 2016a, 2017).

I use a broad interpretation of figurations not only to represent mutations, changes, or transformations (Braidotti 2011b), but also to argue that other subject positions can be captured by the concept. Thereby, it becomes possible to see how figurations emerge in relation to each other. In addition, it is not only power that matters in the construction of different “figures”; how we resist also forms an integrated part of who we are. Moreover, when employing the concept of figurations, we must be aware that naming the figuration, for example, the “female politician,” tends to remove the complexity of the figuration.

What figures we choose to perform is intimately linked with power. Foucault (1975/1991) argues that all human conduct is either rewarded or punished in line with its positioning on a sliding scale. In order to be rewarded (e.g., with status, appreciation) and avoid punishments (e.g., mockery, low status, shame), we tend to adjust to certain positions (which are often addressed in terms of class, race, and gender) and assume certain “what-you-SHOULD-think” discourses (Foucault 1975/1991, 177—83; Lilja 2016a, 2008). In this process, one might be disciplined against several, sometimes conflicting, norms simultaneously, which in turn create tension. The risk of punishment makes subjects sacrifice alternative figurations in favor of dominant ones in order to avoid being hurt. That we act in accordance with given discursive norms in order to avoid punishments can be understood through current theorizing on emotional regimes (Lilja 2017).

The concept of figurations should be seen not only as a theoretical tool but also as an analytical one that illustrates one’s encounters with difference. In the book The Subject of Rosi Braidotti (Blaagaard and van der Tuin 2014), the concept of “figurations” is in fact understood as both a literary genre and as a feminist methodology of self-reflexively narrating one’s meetings with the real. According to Kelsey Henry et al. (2014, 151), the researcher should not be looking for specific identities; rather, identifying figurations is about “mapping emergent subjects” (Lilja 2016a). In this chapter, this means mapping the emerging figuration of the “female politician” in Cambodia. Thereafter, an effort is made to try to understand how this multilayered figuration could be understood in terms of constructive resistance (Lilja 2017).


Before moving on to the figurations in the Cambodian context, I will try to paint a picture of the imaginative poverty that in some senses marks the Cambodian society. One prevalent image in Cambodia is that of the “perfectly virtuous woman,” an image (among many others) that seemingly persists in Cambodian society (Ledgerwood 1996, 32; Kent 2011, 408; Lilja 2016a). Women are assumed to be shy, gentle, uninformed, and narrow-minded. In my interviews, the image of the “perfectly virtuous woman” was often displayed simultaneously as the (colliding) image of “woman as mentally weak.” Still, these are only two of many figurations; social life in Cambodia, as elsewhere, is complex, and contains multiple figurations that are performed in numerous ways (Lilja 2017).

While Cambodia is a complex society, it is still noticeable as a country where strong cultural boundaries limit women’s political opportunities. Women (self- and society-defined) politicians in Cambodia have developed and practice different strategies to survive in an environment where women are often assigned low status. When analyzing interviews that were carried out with women members of parliament (MPs) of the National Assembly, competing figurations of the perfect “female politician” emerged. Some women MPs asserted that women politicians should stay “feminine” and live up to the image of the “perfectly virtuous woman” (Ledgerwood 1996, 32; Kent 2011, 408; Lilja 2016a, 2017). For example, one female MP said, “Women can be successful as politicians if they remain gentle, soft, quiet and, in addition, as intelligent as men are” (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1997). However, not all women MPs emphasized femininity; a few promoted an alternative way of embodying the figuration of the “female politician.” They argued that women must cease performing a “female” identity (that includes characteristics such as quietness and gentleness) and adapt themselves to correspond better with the outspoken norm of a (non-feminine) “politician.” One woman member of the National Assembly argued, “Women must change themselves to fit in the National Assembly. Women are too shy and timid. That is why they have lower status than men have. Women must be stronger and more outspoken” (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1997). Another woman MP stated, “I think to be successful within the men’s area, you know, because men dominate women a lot here in Cambodia, so if we are not outspoken, we are not seen, we are just ignored” (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1999). These quotations reveal how some women politicians perform political action in more assertive and extroverted ways, according to a political norm “into which various characteristics of dominant masculinities (for example rationalism and individualism) are smuggled” (Monro 2005, 169; Lilja 2008). This cultural “mobility” or “code-switching” can be interpreted as resistance against various gender norms, but it also displays “women’s creativity in dealing with the tensions among cultural constructions, objective determinants, ’modern’ imaginations and lived experiences” (Derks 2008, 204).

The ongoing discussion of what the characteristics of the “female politician” ought to be indicates that this is a figuration in the making and one that is currently being negotiated by various political actors. The complexity, contradictions, and movability of the ideals and performances of women MPs display how women struggle with the figuration of the “female politician” and perform it in different ways (Lilja 2017).

I would argue that the possibility of women politicians to emphasize or draw upon different aspects of (male and female) stereotypes, while performing the figuration of the “female politician,” demonstrates the layer-cake character of the figuration. The existence of different axes of differentiation opens up the possibility to actively pick and choose between different ways of performing the figuration (Lilja 2016a). Repeating the figuration of women politicians in new ways can be seen as an act of constructive resistance, which challenges what is often understood as a rather stable gender binary. It is about repeating, in order to survive, in a male-dominated environment (Lilja 2017).

In addition, since Cambodia is a relatively new democracy, which has moved toward becoming an authoritarian state and its public arena has been male dominated, there seems to be no long-standing, well-established figuration of the “female politician,” thus leaving the position open for negotiation. One woman politician said:

In one way it is an advantage to be a woman. People just do not believe that women can be politicians. Therefore, everyone comes to listen to you. They want to see how a female candidate acts. They think, “Is it possible? Can a woman really be a politician?” (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1997)

The same view was held by respondents who discussed the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), also known as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, in 2010. When different stakeholders in the court described the character of the women’s testimonies, some remarked that women’s testimonies receive more attention as it is so rare to see women talk publicly (Interview with witness, Phnom Penh, 2010).

Women who are unexpectedly and surprisingly performing the position of a “politician” or a “witness” can be understood through the concept of “mimicry,” which, in Bhabha’s outline, refers to how the colonized subject becomes like the colonizer, yet not quite the same. This challenges the “fixed” knowledge about who the colonizer is and who the colonized is. The near duplication of the authority comprises a powerful representation, and mimicry becomes a strategy to disturb the constructed differences on which authority is based (Bardenstein 2005; Bhabha 1984, 125—33; Bhabha in Childs and Williams 1997, 129—33). In a similar sense, by showing up in the “wrong” category, the body of the female politicians—a woman being a politician—challenges contemporary cultural boundaries. The advancing of the hybrid image of a “female politician” could be seen as a practice of constructive resistance, which contests boundaries but still constructs a new subject position. Female politicians—the combination of being a “woman” and a “politician”—may be understood as ironic subjects who consist of, to quote Haraway, “contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes” (Haraway in Ferguson 1993, 30). Each woman would also be concerned “about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true” (Haraway in Ferguson 1993, 30). This can be seen as women taking their first steps, moving toward what Kathy Ferguson’s labels “mobile subjectivities” that “need irony to survive the manyness of things” (Ferguson 1993, 178).


So far, I have tried to display some of the complexities of the figuration of the “female politician” in Cambodia, in order to demonstrate how this figuration, when repeated, is loaded with different meanings, is constantly being negotiated, and is (sometimes) entangled with various stereotypes (such as the “perfectly virtuous woman”).

In their resistance against different forms of power, women politicians tend to utilize the richness of subject positions, for instance, by hiding or refusing certain suggested differentiations of the self, while performing others. Figurations in all their complexity are hybrid, contested, and multilayered, which sometimes becomes a source of a creative elaboration of these, which, in turn, could be understood as a form of constructive resistance. As indicated in the above quotations, at times the image of the “perfectly virtuous woman” is drawn upon in order to gain political power. The women can be said to combine different subject positions or prioritize a more feminine or more masculine position in order to advance in political institutions. Thus, gendered and power-loaded discourses are used by women politicians to resist subalternity and gain political power (Lilja 2017).

This kind of resistance can be understood through Foucault’s (1975/1991) formulation of disciplinary power, which comprises different practices of punishments and rewards. Scott (1989) also discusses repressions and punishments as part of different power relations. He describes everyday resistance as a form of resistance that gives subaltern subjects the ability to maneuver when facing repressive political conditions. According to Scott (1989), the form that resistance takes depends on the form of power to which it is responding. Here, the argument of those who claim that “real resistance” is organized, is principled, and has revolutionary implications entirely overlooks the role of power relations by limiting different forms of resistance. If we only care for “real resistance” then “all that is being measured may be at the level of repression that structures the available options” (Scott 1989, 37, 51).

Against this backdrop, it becomes interesting to explore the gendered dynamics of resistance. The imperatives that make “everyday resistance” logical or likely are the same imperatives that fuel the resistance that utilizes the layer-cake character of various “female” figurations. Reviewing the interviews with women politicians in Cambodia reveals how, in order to avoid punishments and gain rewards in terms of status and appreciation, they try to hide or refuse certain suggested differentiations of the self while performing certain aspects of the figurations of the “female.” For example, as noted earlier, some women politicians try to perform in line with the figuration of the (non-feminine) “politician” in order to gain power and as a response to the power relations that regard women as “mentally weaker” than men (Lilja 2008). One woman politician, for example, performed the image of the (non-feminine) “politician” in order to raise the status of women:

As leaders women have also some difficulty. But somehow not all people know what women can do, they always think that men can do better than women. But, through my work as a Minister, I tried to explain these issues. To be a leader I did not like to say, “I am a woman”. But as leader I had to do the job as a leader and not connect being a female with the job. (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1999)

This woman politician performed the role of a leader, while actively trying not to be “a female.” Acknowledging contemporary gender discriminations in Cambodia, she chose to create a credible visual representation of the (non-feminine) “politician.” Still, her struggle to avoid being connected to femininity in some senses reveals that she views herself as a woman, but she tries to “hide” this. This displays how the shifting meanings of the figuration of the “female politician” and the possibility to disguise other parts of the self enable a special kind of gendered resistance. In addition, while this woman politician seemingly departed from her desire to challenge stereotyped and negative images of women by trying “to explain these [gender] issues,” her resistance practices were molded by prevailing power relations that do not reward women’s political activities (Lilja 2017).

These kinds of strategies have previously been addressed by Arlie Russell Hochschild (1983), who explored the concept of “surface acting,” where people mask or disguise what they really feel in order to induce appropriate emotions in others. This indicates that women fake their actions while disguising their “real” strategies, thoughts, and emotions. However, this does not mean that to “fake” a figuration does not have real implications. For example, Frith (2015, 386) argues that the “distinction between the ’real’ and the ’fake’ cannot be established by recourse to unmediated bodily experience.” This indicates that the embodied experience of performing a certain figuration produces certain subjectivities, which challenges the idea of a “surface phenomenon.” In The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Renée Michel outwardly conforms to the negative stereotype of the concierge both by performing it and by being met by others as someone who embodies it (Barbery 2006). This bodily experience probably molds her as a person and forms her subjectivity. Thus, resistance, which utilizes multilayered and complex figurations, has implications for gendered power relations as well as entangled subjectivities (Frith 2015).

As mentioned in earlier sections, some women politicians choose to act not as a (non-feminine) “politician,” but in line with the stereotype of the “perfectly virtuous woman” in order to represent themselves as trustworthy. This resistance seems to draw upon local stereotypes, which are repeated in order to hide complexity and other aspects of the “female politician” figuration. Women mobilize the femininity that they are expected to perform by masking other sides of the figuration that might be perceived as threatening, punishing, or challenging. However, by drawing upon the stereotype of the “perfectly virtuous woman,” in order to get political power, this resistance unintentionally reinforces the same structures of power—and stereotypes—that it resists. Using their bodies and bodily actions to visibly represent and (re)perform the image of the “perfectly virtuous woman” creates the appearance that women maintain and support this position (Lilja 2017).

The above analysis implies how subversive practices are often hidden by the repetition of power-loaded discourses. The woman politician who has been quoted as having avoided “being a female” used a political (male) stereotype to hide her feminist actions. Thus, in moments of resistance, individuals involve the categories and vocabularies that are accepted and used by the dominating force in order to contest them (Butler 1995, 236). It is a repetition that hides its subversion. Resistance appears as the effect of power and as a part of power itself, while simultaneously strengthening power (Lilja 2008). It is the matter of a nexus between power and resistance, where they exist simultaneously and nourish each other.

As stated above, constructive resistance is made possible by the repetition of different aspects of the multilayered character of the figuration of the “female politician.” Overall, there appears to be a divide between women MPs who choose to emphasize either the “female” part or the “politician” part of the figuration of the “female politician,” depending on their evaluations of different relations of power. The various gendered norms of the society are thus both conservative and emancipatory: the gendered order is simultaneously maintained while becoming the source of creative interpretations and new practices (Ferguson in Holmberg 1993, 54).

The performing of constructive practices of resistance—which build on repetition of various aspects of the “female politician”—is informed by disciplinary processes in which punishments and rewards shape various aspects of the figuration. One female politician I interviewed said:

[Cambodians believe that women are] mentally weak! Mentally weak, physically weaker (. . .) If you are living in Europe, you cannot imagine our women in Asia. If we sit with many people we have to sit like this, pretend like this. Then the men say: “How good you are, how nice you are.” (Interview with woman politician, Phnom Penh, 1999)

The word “pretend” suggests that Cambodian women perform a female stereotype that does not necessarily reflect or correspond with their understandings of themselves. It implies that they hide sides of the female figuration that do not meet the general expectations of femininity due to various techniques of power.

As the women who were interviewed questioned (not at least during the interview) the subject position they were expected to perform, they put into question natural “truths” that are often taken for granted in the Cambodian society. By this, I suggest that the cultural order is “shaken”; still, as the women’s criticism remains hidden, their resistance flies under the radar to avoid disciplinary punishments. Here, different emotions—including the fear of punishment—seemingly move female bodies in certain directions (Lilja 2017).

When challenging dominant gender stereotypes, women might be seen as “loose” or “broken” (Derks 2008). These notions are far from harmless. For example, Penny Edwards (2008) notes how the methods used to punish “deviant” women include, for example, throwing acid on bare skin. To cover up and perform in line with current expectations is only one among many strategies these women use to avoid mortal danger (Edwards 2008). Understanding this through Scott’s (1989) conceptualizations of resistance means that resistance depends on the forms of power and the power relations that limit and form it in the first place (Lilja 2017).

So far, I have analyzed how the figuration of the “female politician” creates or opens up the possibility of resistance, which is also constructive of new images of female politicians. Female politicians tend to use the images of society to piece together different figurations of a “woman politician.” Some of these female politicians combine the image of “perfectly virtuous woman” with political action. Hereby, they both confirm and negotiate the female stereotype.

However, such political actions are performed not only within the arena of parliamentary politics but also within other arenas in Cambodia. Interestingly, women who work in local NGOs in Cambodia to promote women’s rights via media seem to use the same kind of resistance. One of the members of a feminist media organization described how her women colleagues act when trying to obtain cheap broadcasting time during peak viewing hours:

When women are negotiating, men treat them like children. But women do not oppose. Instead they are as sweet as a pie. But they are smart; they know what is going on. And when they leave the room, they secretly laugh together at the stupid men, who believe that women’s brains are severely underdeveloped. (Interview with woman NGO worker, Phnom Penh, 1997)

The women NGO workers temporarily and strategically refuse to take the gendered norm seriously, while making fun of those who do—the men. By utilizing the layer-cake character of the female figuration—repeatedly performing in line with the expectations of the “perfectly virtuous woman” (the stereotype) while hiding other aspects of themselves—they gain a good business deal and increased self-confidence (Lilja 2008). The women NGO workers act in accordance with men’s expectations, but for them the meaning of the act is different. While they agree to being treated as children and act “as sweet as pie,” there is ambiguity between what is said and what is meant, as well as between what is said and what is understood. Ironically, displaying and strategically using only parts of a female figuration, while simultaneously “degrading” men and masculinity, have the potential to negotiate the categories of the society (Lilja 2017). Therefore, as the actions of the women NGO workers show, there can still be resistance even when it is hard to determine the deliberate intentions of the actors (e.g., Scott 1989; Hollander and Einwohner 2004).

Here, resistance is not seen as an intent or effect, but as a particular kind of repetition of a specific subject position. Resistance also paradoxically reinforces power relations. Power, then, occasionally relies on the production of resistance, and is sometimes recreated precisely through the very same resistance that it provokes (Lilja 2016b). With these considerations in mind, power and resistance are increasingly being understood as interconnected and entangled (Sharp et al. 2000). This view is also supported by the idea that subjects respond to power relations in different ways—from obedience to subversion. And if power changes, resistance has to change as well, and a strategy that is completely without result in certain contexts can be challenging and subversive in others, and vice versa (Lilja 2017).


In this chapter, I have analyzed women politicians as reflexive beings who are “reading,” embodying, as well as resisting various discursive strands in their processes of becoming. By using the work of Braidotti (2007, 2011a, 2011b) as a springboard, I have suggested that the concept of figurations can help us to understand women’s politicians everyday resistance. The concept of figurations has been broadened to include different lived positions: to embrace both “new” lived positions and more well-known, established but transformative accounts of the “self.” With this move, it is possible to display the connections, boundaries, and interaction between different figurations (such as the “migrant,” the “expatriate,” the “mail-order bride,” the “feminist,” and/or the “white angry Swedish man,” among others). By using a broader understanding of the concept, I hope to contribute to the concept of figurations as a site for analyzing different socioeconomic positions and resistance practices, in times of transformation, in the nexus between the symbolic and the material (Lilja 2017).

Figurations, in all their complexity, are hybrid, contested, multilayered, and, in different ways, fuel or facilitate resistance. Overall, this chapter shows how the “differences within” various figurations are performed, questioned, punished, hidden, and used for resistance. Resistance uses, and is parasitic on, existing stereotypes and power relations. Stereotypes are repeated in order to avoid disciplinary punishments, which follow from performing unexpected, misfit, or dangerous positions. Resistance, then, is a reaction against power, and power (in the form of stereotypes) is used in the act of resistance. Resistance is fed by power and profits from power. Emotions, in the form of fear of punishment or desire for rewards, become driving forces for both discipline and resistance. In the end, “fake” repetitions indicate the construction of new female figurations, which facilitate women’s political power; resistance becomes constructive.

By performing this type of resistance, the body becomes the tool of resistance. The practice of this resistance involves both the material and the symbolic. In processes of meaning-making, the physical body becomes a means for repeatedly performing certain practices and parts of a figuration, while downplaying others. The physical, emotional, and cultural are bound together and entangled in a complex fashion. Thus, in order to understand this form of resistance, the social and material conditions of the figurations’ existence, including the cartographies of gendered power relations, need to be taken into account (Braidotti 2007, 9; Lilja 2017).


1. This chapter builds on forty-one in-depth interviews that I conducted in 1997, 1999, 2002, and 2007 with politically involved women and men from different political parties: the Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Independant Neutre Pacifique et Cooperatif (National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia), the Cambodian People’s Party, the Human Rights Party, and the Sam Rainsy Party. The respondents range from members of parliament and senators to grassroots activists. I also interviewed eleven Cambodian NGO workers who shared their views on issues of gender, women leaders, power, and resistance. I also refer to twenty-seven interviews conducted in Cambodia in 2013, with women activists, NGO workers, politicians, and people working in the media. These interviews were conducted by the RESIST research group (including Mona Lilja, Mikael Baaz, Michael Schulz, and Stellan Vinthagen), in order to map civil society—based activities in Cambodia. Additional interviews were conducted by the research group during a “follow-up” field visit in 2014, when the team interviewed activists, NGO workers, media professionals, and politicians in Cambodia in order to understand the developments of civil society—based “resistance” and their impact on the political systems and norms of local regimes (Lilja 2016a). Due to the ongoing nature of the data collection, this assemblage of material has been analyzed continuously. The interviews have been made gradually and cumulatively, which has allowed new insights to develop along the research process (Hannerz 2003, 207; Espinoza 2015, 3).


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