Michelle Caswell, assistant professor of archival studies in the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, will publish the book, "Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia," on April 1. Caswell is also an affiliated faculty member in the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
"Archiving the Unspeakable" examines the black-and-white mug photographs of Cambodian "enemies of the state" taken during the Khmer Rouge reign, a four-year period during which 1.7 million Cambodians died from starvation, execution and untreated disease. Mugs shots were taken of victims before they were tortured and killed. In her book, Caswell examines how the photographs have been displayed and contextualized to deliver different messages about "silence and witnessing, human rights and injustice."
Caswell earned her B.A. in religion for Columbia University, and a Master's degree in theological studies with an emphasis on Southeast Asian religions from Harvard. She is the co-founder of the South Asian American Digital Archive, an online repository which documents and provides access to the diverse stories of South Asian Americans. Her research interests include the collective memory of violence, the politics of accountability, ownership and access and visual culture.