Julie Thi Underhill
B.A., The Evergreen State College, 2000
M.A., UC Berkeley, 2009
Julie Thi Underhill is an artist, photographer, filmmaker, writer, and historian living in Berkeley, CA. She is a core member of the Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network and a managing editor of diaCRITICS. As a Chancellor's Fellow, she is currently a doctoral candidate in UC Berkeley’s department of ethnic studies, where she specializes in Cham studies, diasporic studies, Asian American film/video, Asian American history, and transnational feminisms. In 2010, she directed the San Francisco Diasporic Vietnamese Film Festival, the first of its kind in the Bay Area.
Non-Fiction, Poetry, Journalism, Scholastic
Latest Publication Title
"Democratic Kampuchea's Genocide of the Cham" on diaCRITICS, 2010
"Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora: Troubling Borders in Literature and Art — A Call to Support Visibility and Visuality" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"Isabelle Thuy Pelaud and 'This is All I Choose to Tell' on New America Now — A Radio Interview With Andrew Lam" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"The Art of Memory without Pyrotechnics — Exclusive Intervu with Vu Tran" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"Pasadena" in Hayden's Ferry Review, 2011
"San Francisco Diasporic Vietnamese Film Festival – A Preview" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"Remembering Tam Tran: UCLA’s Vietnamese Culture Night — 'Còn nuoc, còn tát — Still We Rise'" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"DVAN’s Holiday Fundraiser—Reckoning with a Tour de Force" on diaCRITICS, 2011
"diaCRITICIZE: One good motherland (re)turn deserves another" on diaCRITICS, 2010
"Appreciation: Tam Tran, Advocate for the Undocumented" in New America Media, 2010
"Ghosts" in Embodying Asian/American Sexualities, Lexington Books, 2009
"War Dreams" in Veterans of War, Veterans of Peace, Koa Books, 2006
"One Vet Remembers" in Takin’ It to the Streets: A Sixties Reader, Oxford University Press, 2004
"Across the Aisle" in King County Metro Poetry Bus Project, 1997
"Masonry" in 11th Street Ruse, 1994
"Discrimination" in Sassy, 1990
The Cham are descendants of Champa, a longstanding kingdom that that once occupied most of today’s central Việt Nam—roughly from Quảng Bình to Đồng Nai provinces. Beginning in the late fifteenth century, the Cham fled Vietnamese incursions into northern Champa, finding refuge in southern Champa and in the successive Buddhist kingdoms that emerged after the fall of Angkor. Some Cham territory in Việt Nam remained intact, in gradually eroding parcels, until 1832. The Cham in Cambodia lived in relative peace until the 1970s, when they were targeted by the Khmer Rouge. For five hundred years now, in both Việt Nam and Cambodia, only some Cham have survived the most perilous conditions. However, international attention has never settled upon any Cham community until now, in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, more casually known as the Khmer Rouge tribunal. In Phnom Penh, the tribunal currently considers whether the well- documented persecutions of the Cham in Cambodia do indeed provide sufficient evidence of the Khmer Rouge’s intent to destroy them, in whole or in part. To many observers and survivors, there is no doubt that this ethnic and religious minority was targeted with more exacting brutality, with kill rates at double or triple the average population. Some historians claim that the Cham had a higher rate of loss than any other ethnic group. Khmer Rouge documents from that era demand that this distinct group be “broken up” because “their lives are not so difficult.” However, the Khmer Rouge disguised their own genocidal intent in their only official statement on the Cham, when they announced, “The Cham race was exterminated by the Vietnamese.” The Khmer Rouge claim that no Cham had survived the conquest of Champa was certainly convenient, as noted by historian and genocide scholar Ben Kiernan. Because in the Khmer Rouge’s plan for the Cham, “they were to ‘disappear’ as a people,” Kiernan remarked in The Pol Pot Regime. Hence the regime set out to complete the disappearance of their Cham “enemies”—through deportation and extermination, and by forbidding their Islamic worship, their use of Cham language, and their retention of all distinctive cultural practices. Although all Cambodians suffered terribly during the Khmer Rouge, the killing of one’s own ethnic and religious group cannot be prosecuted under genocide law, which was drafted in the wake of the Jewish Holocaust during World War Two. So for the Khmer Rouge tribunal, the Cham case may provide the most legible evidence of genocide, alongside the persecutions suffered by a smaller minority of ethnic Vietnamese. Four former high-ranking Khmer Rouge cadre have now been individually and collectively indicted for crimes of war, for crimes against humanity, and for genocide against the Cham and the Vietnamese in Cambodia—and these former cadre are currently on trial in Phnom Penh. Genocide was the most recent addition to the expected charges, representing the long-held notion but unproven conviction that the Khmer Rouge committed the crime of crimes.
How did Evergreen help you in your career?
Evergreen allowed me to pursue several interconnected but distinct paths - filmmaking, photography, creative writing, critical writing, and historical writing - and introduced a pedagogy that remains imperative to my teaching.