The Nature of Revolution
Art and Politics under the Khmer Rouge

James A. Tyner

A framework for understanding Khmer Rouge–era art and politics


The Nature of Revolution provides the first account of art and politics under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. James A. Tyner repositions Khmer Rouge artworks within their proper political economic context: the materialization of a political organization in an era of anticolonial and decolonization movements. Consequently, both the organization’s policies and practices—including the production of poetry, music, and photography—were incontrovertibly shaped by and created to further the Khmer Rouge’s agenda.

Theoretically informed and empirically grounded, Tyner’s work examines the social dimensions of the Khmer Rouge, while contributing broadly to a growing literature on the intersection of art and politics. Building on the foundational works of theorists such as Jacques Rancière, Theodore Adorno, and Walter Benjamin, Tyner explores the insights of Leon Trotsky and his descriptions of the politics of aesthetics specific to socialist revolutions. Ultimately, Tyner reveals a fundamental tension between individuality and bureaucratic control and its impact on artistic creativity and freedom.

Page count: 208 pp.
11 b&w images
Trim size: 6 x 9


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JAMES A. TYNER is a professor of geography at Kent State University and fellow of the American Association of Geographers. He is the author of seventeen books, including War, Violence, and Population: Making the Body Count, which received the AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. Tyner is also the author of numerous articles and book chapters, and his other honors include the AAG Glenda Laws Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues.