Caroline Bennett

Dr Caroline Bennett profile picture

Lecturer School of Social and Cultural Studies


Teaching in 2020

Research interests

Mass graves, mass death, violence, conflict, genocide, Cambodia, and visual methods


PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Kent, UK (2015)

MA in Visual Anthropology, University of Kent, UK (2011)

MSc in Forensic Anthropology, Bradford University, UK (2006)

BSc (Hons) in Anthropology, University College London, UK (2000)

PGCHE, University of Kent, UK (2015)


My research addresses issues of politics, violence and collective memory, as well as development, human rights and international justice. Building on experience as a forensic anthropologist in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq, my research centres on conflict and violence, with specific attention to mass graves, mass death, genocide, and the politics of death and the dead, interrogating the efficacy of geopolitical interventions and universalist assumptions related to trauma, healing, justice, and wider human rights discourses on conflict and disaster.

My PhD research used an examination of mass graves to ask how the period of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975 – 1979) informs and shapes contemporary Cambodian life. As physical markers of violence and political instability, mass graves make visible the clash between history (as constructed by the state) and memory (as experienced by everyday people), examining how moments of national trauma re-shape the state and relationships within it, and why destructive periods of violence nonetheless create new fields for the imagination of the religious and the social.

Methodologically I am interested in how creative methodologies enable spaces for exploring difficult and sensitive issues, and how visual methods in particular can offer modes for engaging beyond the academic community. As part of this I am interested in visual culture, public media and its consumption.

Recent publications

Bennett, C. (2019). Human Remains from the Khmer Rouge Regime, Cambodia. In Squires, K.; Errickson, D.; Márquez-Grant, N. (Eds). Ethical Approaches to Human Remains. Springer. Pp. 567-582

Bennett, C. (2018). Karma after Democratic Kampuchea: Justice Outside the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 12(3), 66-82. doi:10.5038/1911-9933.12.3.1567

Bennett, C. (2018). Book Review: To Kill a People: Genocide in the Twentieth Century. Genocide Studies and Prevention, 12(2), 197-199. doi:10.5038/1911-9933.12.2.1587

Bennett, C. (2018). Living with the dead in the killing fields of Cambodia. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 49(2), 184-203. doi:10.1017/S0022463418000188

Bennett, C. (2018). Book Review: Cambodia. Man or monster: The trial of a Khmer Rouge torturer By Alexander Laban Hinton Durham: Duke University Press, 2016. Pp. 299. Timeline, Abbreviations, Notes, Bibliography, Index.. Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 49(2), 333-335. doi:10.1017/S0022463418000073

Bennett, C. (2018). A Sweaty Praxis. Commoning Ethnography, 1(1), 1-7. doi:10.26686/ce.v1i1.4135

2015. Guest editorial of Anthropology Matters 16(1) (with Maria Paz Peirano, Carin Tunaker, Brian Campbell and Ainhoa Montoya). Anthropological Migrations and Frontiers: The 2nd Postgraduate Conference of the Royal Anthropological Institute.

Bennett, C. (2015). Genetics and Disaster Victim Identification. In Wright, James D (Editor-in-chief) International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences (Second Edition). Elsevier. Pp 945 – 950.

Bennett, C. (2014). Who Knows Who We Are? Questioning DNA Analysis in Disaster Victim Identification. New Genetics and Society 33(3): 239 – 256.

Bennett, C., Tunaker, C., Campbell, B., & Peirano-Olate, M. -P. (2013). Frontiers and Migrations in Anthropology: 2nd RAI Postgraduate Conference. Anthropology Today 29(3): 27 – 28.

Public Scholarship

Bennett, C. (2018). Dark tourism: why atrocity tourism is neither new nor weird. The Conversation, 18 November

Bennett, C. (2017). One party to rule them all: Cambodia's Supreme Court rules the dissolution of opposition party. The Conversation, 24 November

Bennett, C. (2017). Violent politics and the disintegration of democracy in Cambodia. The Conversation, 11 September

Conference papers and guest presentations

July 2019. Colliding Stories at Choeung Ek. IAGS 2019: 14th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars: “The Missing Picture”: Rethinking Genocide Studies and Prevention. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

July 2018. Raising the dead : political uses of the dead and their graves in Cambodia. 6th INoGS Global Conference on Genocide (International Network of Genocide Scholars). Marseille, France.

October 2017. What Do We Do When We Dig Up Mass Graves? Biological Anthropology Research Seminar. School of Archaeology and Anthropology. Australia National University, 5 October

July 2017. Past Present, Present Passed: Justice Beyond the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Justice and the Prevention of Genocide: The Thirteenth Meeting of the International Association of Genocide Scholars 2017, University of Queensland, Brisbane, 9-13 July

May 2017. A ‘Sweaty’ Praxis? Anthropology in Aotearoa Symposium. Celebrating 50 Years of Anthropology at Victoria University of Wellington, Victoria University of Wellington, 10-12 May

March 2017. Past present, present passed: restoring time beyond the Khmer Rouge tribunals. Presentation on 16 March in Panel Session: Beyond the Margins of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal: A Multidisciplinary multisited approach to recovery and framing the past, Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, 16 – 19 March, Toronto.

November 2016. Stories-so-far: (re)creating, (re)narrating space in the killing fields of Cambodia. Evidence, Accident, Discovery : 115th American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Minneapolis, MN, 16-19 Nov.

July 2016. Sublime Bodies and Mortal Remains: The Nameless Dead in the Culture of Impunity in Cambodia. Anthropological Legacies and Human Futures: 14th EASA Biennial Conference (European Association of Social Anthropologists), Milan, Italy, 20-23 July.

May 2016. The spirits would feel good - they're helping develop their country': Tourism and development at the Killing Fields of Cambodia. New Trajectories in the Study of Development, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 24 May

April 2016. Femoral bone remodeling comparisons between adult males and females from medieval England [poster] (with Miszkiewicz, J; Mahoney, P; Johns, S.) 85th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Atlanta, GA, 13-16 April

December 2015. Living with the Dead in the Killing Fields of Cambodia. Anthropology Research Seminar, University of Kent, UK.

March 2015. Lives (Deaths) Worth Knowing: Political Aspects of Mass Grave Location and Investigation. Forensic Forums 2016, London, UK. Conference chair.

October 2014. Digging up the Dead: Questioning the Practice of Osteo-archaeology. Day of the Dead, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK.

June 2014. Death Becomes Us: Karma and Reincarnation in the Killing Fields. University of Göttingen Ethnology Colloquium, Germany.

September 2013. Mass Graves in Cambodia. Corpses of Mass Violence Conference, University of Manchester, UK.

March 2013. What is Mass Grave Victim Identity? International Forum on Mass Grave Victim Identity, London, UK.

December 2012. The Spirit Sees the Person: Looking at Identification of the Dead Socially. "Naming the dead: social, ethical and political issues of disaster victim identification by DNA analysis." Brocher Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland.

June 2012. Mass Grave Excavations: A Global Responsibility? University of Sussex, UK.

September 2011. “I’m Going to be a Famous Hollywood Star!” Using Video in Participatory Research with People with Learning Disabilities. International Visual Methods Conference 2012, Milton Keynes, UK.

Selected online work

Caroline Bennett's website

Life on Water: A Photographic Tale from Cambodia [photo documentary]. Exhibited at Intimate Lens Festival of Visual Ethnography 2013, Caserta, Italy.

Leang Neak Ta Festival of Spirit Mediums [photo documentary].

Visualising the Body [video art and blog post].

We Want [U] To Know discussion article [online review from GIEFF symposium]

What is it, participatory? [blog post].

Memberships, appointments and other work

  • Advisory Board Member for the International Association of Genocide Scholars
  • Advisory Board Member for 2017 Forensic Forums, London, UK.
  • Research Associate for Dynamics of Religion in South-East Asia network.
  • Administrator and contributor to ukvisualanthropology
  • Conference co-convenor, Anthropological Migrations and Frontiers: 2nd RAI Postgraduate Conference. University of Kent, September 2012.
  • SUPRA Scholarship. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen, November 2014.
  • ESRC Research Student Scholarship (UK) (Grant number ES/J500148/1) 2011 – 2015.


Teaching in 2020