Streenotes 29 New York City in Transformation

"New York City in Transformation," edited by LinDa Saphan and Jennifer M. Pipitone, profiles urban transformations in New York City, broadly defined and ranging from mundane daily rhythms of the city to the extraordinary. Together, nine academic and artistic selections highlight the myriad ways in which urban transformations can take place: at varying scales and speeds; at varying levels of visibility; and at the hands of different stakeholders, actors, and agents of change.

Click here to access the journal

Streetnotes 29 cover

Faded Reels Book Launch July 30 2022

A movie premiere style book launch for the first book on Cambodian early Cinema. The DMC team did a fantastic job at organizing a beautiful events at the Prime Cineplex Samai Square in Phnom Penh. A grandiose book launch attended by the movie industry people.



There was a need to document the contribution of early Cambodian cinema and its recent revival as an art form from Cambodians in the homeland and in the diaspora. Hence Dr. LinDa Saphan recent work focuses on Cambodia’s visual and popular culture of the early years of Cambodian cinema Faded Reels: The Art of Four Cambodian Filmmakers 1960-1975 will be published in July 2022 in English and in Khmer by the Royal University of Phnom Penh, department of Media and Communication. The book covers the early history of Cambodian cinema and focuses on four directors: Ly Bun Yim, Tea Lim Koun, Yvon Hem, and Uong Citta (aka Kanthouk).

Faded Reels: The Art of Four Cambodian Filmmakers, 1960-1975 brings to light the essential contributions to world cinema made by Cambodia’s greatest pre war directors: Ly Bun Yim, Tea Lim Koun, Yvon Hem, and Uong Citta (Kanthouk). With in-depth plot summaries, stunning screenshots, and discussions of 16 rare Cambodian films, this book gives readers access to a largely undocumented period of Southeast Asian film history. A Cambodian cinema history for movie lovers and film scholars alike, Faded Reels includes detailed scene descriptions that feature the technical craftsmanship, innovation, complex storytelling, compelling characters, and beautiful cinematography of each director, while situating their biographies in the socio-cultural context of Cambodian history. Highlights include an exclusive interview with director Uong Citta, and chapters focusing on key films such as The Snake Man, The Twelve Sisters Story, Sovannahong, and Thavary Meas Bong. Extensively researched, this first analysis of the early Cambodian films is an addition to global cinema.


Dreams for Our Children: Immigrant Letters to the Future

Dream for Our Children: Immigrant Letters to the Future.

LinDa Saphan contributed a piece "What's in a Name?" The story behind the meaning of her name and her personal journey to reclaim my cultural heritage and identity through a letter written to her 10 year old daughter.

This book project was created during the lockdown and it is quite an uplifting project from immigrants sharing their experiences and stories.

The book can be purchased at Barnes and Nobles;jsessionid=7B9E411C856474DD9B4FFCD80D544C53.prodny_store01-atgap06?ean=2940166244956


Webinar: Cambodia's Golden Voices Legacies

January 28th, 2022 8am (eastern time)

Dr LinDa Saphan from the sociology department will be hosting a webinar organized by The Center for Khmer Studies (CKS), The New York Southeast Asia Network (NYSEAN), and The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) on Cambodian prewar musical influences.

Wonder how House of the Rising Sun by The Animals sounds in Khmer? Curious how surf guitar and Ennio Morricone played a part of Cambodian musical heyday? Tune in on January 28 at 8am eastern time by registering on the link below:

Chaktomuk Short Film Festival

Jury member for 2021 Chaktomuk Short Film Festival

What an amazing line up! This year submission was extraordinary for its high quality production value, rising stars and upcoming directors.


For more information on the film festival:

Dr. Saphan quoted in the New York Times

Overlooked No More: Sinn Sisamouth, ‘King’ of Cambodian Pop Music by Mike Ives published Sept. 9, 2021

“When it came to singing technique, Sinn Sisamouth was king,” Prince Panara Sirivudh, a member of the Cambodian royal family, said in the documentary. “His voice was so beautiful, and he wrote very sweet songs.”  Popular Western music was imported to Cambodia as early as the 1940s by the royal palace and by Cambodians who could afford to travel to Europe, and the country’s rock ’n’ roll scene began in earnest in the 1950s, according to a study by LinDa Saphan, the associate producer of the documentary and a professor of sociology at the College of Mount Saint Vincent in New York City.  The sound blended high-pitched, operatic singing with the distorted electric guitar solos that were popular in American music at the time.  Sinn Sisamouth became representative of this new style because he had an ability to write both ballads and upbeat rock songs, Saphan wrote, but the voices of Ros Serey Sothea and other female vocalists on his recordings were the “final touch that made this Cambodian mix so enticing.”

Early in his career, Sinn Sisamouth was invited to perform with Cambodia’s royal ballet; he appeared in dapper suits and bow ties, his hair combed back. He also traveled overseas — to India, Hong Kong and beyond — with a traditional band formed by the queen’s son, Norodom Sihanouk, a composer and saxophonist (and future king) who played a major role in developing the country’s cultural industries in the postcolonial era.  It was a hopeful time in Cambodia’s history: The country had achieved independence from France in 1953 and was shaping its identity and culture.  As Sinn Sisamouth’s popularity grew, his former neighbors in the countryside marveled at hearing his songs on the radio. Some referred to him as “golden voice” or the “Elvis of Cambodia.”  “A medical student — how can he sing?” the villagers said at the time, his sister recalled in the documentary.  He met Ros Serey Sothea when she was 17 at the national radio station and recorded with her for more than a decade.  Though they were never romantically involved, “their musical conversations were love stories filled with a sense of yearning and despair, of palpable loss, yet holding out the possibility of reconciliation,” Saphan wrote.

00overlooked-Sisamouth-superJumbo To read the full article click here

DTIF at The Kennedy Center

It’s so thrilling to hear Cambodian singers at the Kennedy Center, I feel they have been rightfully acknowledged.

It is with great honor that I stand here with the film’s director, John Pirozzi, to present our film and help kick off the re-opening of the Millenium Stage Summer at the REACH organized by Samasama and the Kennedy Center. We’d like to thank the entire Kennedy Center team and Seda Nak and Les Talusan from Samasama for making it happen. Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten itself is a celebration of the universal power of music and its ability to transcend borders and speak to so many people despite their cultural differences. As it happens Cambodian popular musicians were particularly adept at synthesizing many different styles of music from all over the world and creating music that you may find familiar yet unique at the same time. The film is a celebration of Cambodian musical creativity and the music’s resiliency.  

kennedy center

The Golden Age of Cambodian Popular Music Book Chapter

Popular and Political Songwriting in Cambodia: From Sihanouk’s Prewar Golden Age to Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge By LinDa Saphan and Nate Hun

Hun, N., Kim, M., Lee, Y., Nelson, R., Oum, R. O., & Saphan, L.,(2021), The Golden Age of Cambodian Popular Music, Kim, M.(Ed.), Seoul: Hyunsilbook

김미정, 로저 넬슨, 린다 사판, 움 로따낙 오돔, 이용우, 네이트 훈, (2021), 캄보디아 대중음악의 황금시대, 김미정(엮), 서울: 현실문화


Music has been prominent in daily life in Cambodia since ancient times. Following centuries of political turmoil and warfare, Cambodia experienced a brief period of peace, prosperity, and modernization under King Norodom Sihanouk in the 1950s and 1960s, leading to a flourishing of music in the form of romantic songs followed by the arrival of a Western/Cambodian mix of rock and roll. Ultimately the majority of modern musicians were killed by the Khmer Rouge for their “antirevolutionary” music. Since gaining independence from France in 1953, Cambodia has experienced a series of rapid political regime changes, each characterized by authoritarianism. Each regime, from Sihanouk to Lon Nol, the Khmer Rouge, and Hun Sen, used music for political purposes. This chapter examines the lyrics of popular and political Cambodian songs from the prewar era to the Khmer Rouge (1953–1979), to understand how music both reflected and shaped changing sociopolitical currents. Keywords: Songwriters, composers, Cambodia, popular music.

For more information click here

LinDa with Book



Essay by LinDa Saphan and Kevin Cabrera

New York City has borne more than its fair share of trauma in the last 20 years. But traumas like the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have revealed both the city’s toughness and its sociable, almost small-town side—exemplified in the Christmas tree subculture that is as much a part of holidays in New York as adorned shop windows on Fifth Avenue. Like Christmas, the vendors come every year. And in this pandemic year, particularly, they remain essential hubs of safe community contact, counteracting forced isolation. Since the end of the first COVID-19 wave, New York has been reinventing itself in creative ways—for instance, in the way it has created beautiful outdoor dining settings. The annual ritual of welcoming tree vendors, buying a tree, and carting it home in the cold should buck up New Yorkers as they celebrate the symbols—and substance—of their survivorship and goodwill.

To read the full essay