Cambodia is in the midst of a construction boom. The building of high-rise office blocks and housing is pushing the capital city upwards but the country’s vertical drive into the skies and status as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies hides a darker side to Phnom Penh’s ascent. Building projects demand bricks in large quantities and there is a profitable domestic brick production industry using multigenerational workforces of debt-bonded adults and children to supply them.
in the midst
Research enabled by the ESRC–DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation on blood bricks reveals more than just the vertical aspirations of a global business elite built on modern slavery; but forefronts stories of climate change.
Moving from the city, the brick kiln, back to the rural villages once called home, the exhibition traces how urban ‘development’ is built on unsustainable levels of debt taken on by rural families trying to farm in one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Blood bricks may be less iconic than ‘blood diamonds’ yet their stories are no less profound; embodying the human and environmental traumas of climate change.
The launch of the research findings report and the exhibition private view will be held on Tuesday 16 October. Please contact Nithya Natarajan for further information if you would like to attend.
This research stems from the ESRC-DFID funded project, ‘Blood Bricks: Examining the Modern Slavery-Climate Change Nexus in the Cambodian Construction Industry’ (2017-2019) [ES/R00238X/1].
Read this related feature from The Guardian on 18 October 2018.
Photographs and images are the original work of Thomas Cristofoletti / Ruom. Copyright © 2018 Royal Holloway, University of London