Japanese Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Online ISSN : 2424-1377
Print ISSN : 0563-8682
ISSN-L : 0563-8682
New Japanese Scholarship in Cambodian Studies
Kampot of the Belle Époque:
From the Outlet of Cambodia to a Colonial Resort
Takako Kitagawa
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2005 Volume 42 Issue 4 Pages 394-417


Historical studies about Cambodia have paid little attention to regional factors, and historians have been hardly able to give much perspective about the history of particular regions within the country. Therefore, this paper looks at Kampot as it was during the French colonial period in order to understand the foundations of present-day Kampot. Presently, Kampot is the name of a province and its capital city, which face the Gulf of Thailand. During the colonial period, it was an administrative center for the circonscription résidentielle that extended over the coastal region. The principal sources for this paper are the “Rapports périodiques, économiques et politiques de la résidence de Kampot,” from 1885 to 1929, collected in the Centre des Archives d'Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, France.
 Drawing from the results of our examination, we can recognize two stages in the history of Kampot. These are (1) the Kampot of King Ang-Duong, and (2) modern Kampot, which was constructed by French colonialism. King Ang-Duong's Kampot was the primary sea outlet for his landlocked kingdom. After colonization by the French, King Ang-Duong's Kampot became extinct, and the coastal region became isolated from other parts of Cambodia. The principal reason for this was the opening of Saigon Port and the exploitation of the Mekong River route. French Kampot became a regional administrative center and a colonial resort, which continues to the present. The appearance of the colonial city was succeeded to the provincial capital city after independence. Kampot's status as a resort, which had been interrupted during the civil war period, began to be revived in the middle 1990s.
 Throughout the periods of its history, the coastal region had been located on the border between inland Cambodia and the international maritime world. The delimitation of the Kingdom of Cambodia under French colonialism made Kampot into a state border district. The international openness of Kampot sometimes disturbed regional security. From the French point of view, the Chinese element had the potential to cause insecurity and, therefore, was strictly watched. The border served as a zone of refuge for thieves and pirates, and menaced the stability of the French administration. This situation continued until quite recently. Until the mid-1990s, the Khmer Rouge dominated the zone where thieves had once raged during the colonial period.

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© 2005 Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
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