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Farrah Tek

February 23, 2016

Farrah Tek is currently a graduate candidate in Political Science with a minor in Human Rights. Her subfields are Comparative Politics and International Relations. Her research seeks to contribute to an emerging literature that studies the legal consciousness and mobilization from the ground up by looking at the state-society relationship between citizens and their responses to grievances in post-conflict Cambodia.

Her research has been influenced by her personal identities and scholarly endeavors. She received her BA from the University of Mary Washington with a double major in English and Human Rights. After she graduated, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research on victim participation at the UN-supported Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Farrah was the first 1st generation Cambodian-American in her family to go to Cambodia since her parents survived the Khmer Rouge’s totalitarian rule and immigrated to the U.S. in 1981. During her first year in Cambodia, she became aware of a wider range of human rights and legal issues resulting from a regime with a weak rule of law. Although her proposed research was on victims’ perspectives of justice and she published an article in the Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, she began to consider other research questions on contemporary issues affecting ordinary Cambodians.

The longer she lived and researched in Cambodia, the more issues she was exposed to first-handedly. Her two years of research there pushed her to examine why Cambodians would take land and labor grievances to different state and non-state forums, and why this has changed overtime. Initially, Cambodians could only take their grievances to state institutions, but as informal mechanisms developed, such as the Arbitration Council, they were given more options. However, these mechanisms did not adequately deliver the rule of law to Cambodians because it needed the support of state enforcement of the laws, which led to an increase in public uprisings. Yet, Cambodians are still invoking state law in various ways. Why do they if these mechanisms and socio-legal behavior have shown to not adequately deliver justice?

Farrah’s research path has been generously supported by various fellowships. She has been awarded the Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship from the Office for Diversity in Graduate Education. This office also awarded her one of the College of Liberal Arts’s (CLA) DOVE Pre-Dissertation Research Summer Fellowship to finance her preliminary fieldwork. Recently, Farrah received a 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship. She will begin her immersive, interpretative fieldwork in 2017.