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Yvonne Kwan
UC Santa Cruz/sociology

Dissertation Fellow, 2013

Dissertation: Encountering Memory and Affect: Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma in 1.5 and Second Generation Cambodian American Refugees

Abstract: The traumatic consequences of genocide, war, slavery, and colonialism continue to manifest not only in the people who were affected, but also descendants of survivors. This study focuses on Cambodians, who lived through the Khmer Rouge genocide, and their descendants. Although there has been some research on the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and somatic diseases among first generation Cambodian Americans, there is a lack of data on the lingering mental and physical effects of trauma on subsequent generations. Cambodian youth are often ridiculed for not fitting in or belonging to the racially microaggressive discourses of the model minority myth. By tracing the critical transitions from high school to college and from college to postgraduate studies and/or work, this study investigates the effects of transgenerational trauma on family relationships, cultural identity development, and educational aspirations.

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