Thailand and Cambodia: The Battle for Preah Vihear

Historical memory plays a profound role in shaping national identities and international relations. Leaders often invoke visions of a shared past to unify diverse populations under a common flag or to rally diverse countries toward a common regional purpose. However, historical memories can also be explosively divisive. This article briefly examines one such case: the case of Preah Vihear, an ethereal ancient temple complex that sits high in the Dangrek Mountains near the Thai-Cambodian border.

This article is useful for teaching about historical memory and territorial disputes. The SPICE unit, Divided Memories: Comparing History Textbooks, provides students with a broad overview of historical memory and certain sensitive historical episodes of the 20th century. Also, the lessons, "The Territorial Integrity of Indonesia," in Understanding Indonesia in the 21st Century, and "The Russo-Japanese 'Northern Territories' Dispute," in Choices in International Conflict: With a Focus on Security Issues in Asia, provide students with background on territorial disputes.