DOI: 10.1177/09646639241237177 ISSN: 0964-6639

Pressing Evidence: Activating Khmer Rouge Archives

Maria Elander, Rachel Hughes
  • Law
  • General Social Sciences
  • Sociology and Political Science

Across the world, non-state actors are documenting international crimes and creating archives for accountability purposes. In this article, we consider how archives and their records are ‘pressed into’ legal service. At a time of wider archive creations, we suggest the archives pertaining to the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) provide insights as a compelling ‘post-accountability’ case of the continuum of archival processes. By examining four Khmer Rouge archives, we demonstrate how records are activated in legal processes across different spacetimes, and how the records themselves ‘(im)press upon’ on the legal process. In these processes, different actors seek to control the narrative of the past through archival holdings. We find that entrepreneurial justice, especially in the crucible of a legal process, can create fierce competition between actors over the economic and social capital inherent in record-keeping that is ultimately detrimental to understanding and pluralising the past.