Border wars: The ongoing temple dispute between Thailand and Cambodia and UNESCO's World Heritage List

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


This article traces the history of the ongoing tension between Thailand and Cambodia over a beautiful Khmer temple located on the unresolved border between the two countries. The struggle is noteworthy for its transethnic character, the deep and imbricated history of the players, and the fight's intersection with dramatic contemporary politics in both countries. The paper argues that the dispute implicates existential challenges to ancient and contemporary political legitimacy. It emphasizes the significant role iconic sites can play in the construction of national identity as well as in the competitive global tourism market. The paper questions UNESCO cultural heritage policy concerning contested nominations to the World Heritage List and offers a recommendation for future treatment of similar cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Cambodia
  • Cultural heritage
  • Nationalism
  • Preah Vihear
  • Thailand
  • World heritage list

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Conservation
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Museology

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