Erin Moriarty Harrelson

Tracking Down Deaf Artists in Battambang

BATTAMBANG, Cambodia – Standing by the counter on the ground floor of Romcheik 5 New Art Space, a gallery and compound where four young artists live and work, I felt the same way I did when I was in the fifth grade ...

The Lost Deaf Men (and Women) of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—The men (and occasionally, a woman) show up at the entrance of Deaf Development Programme, standing uncertainly by the corrugated steel gate, downcast eyes on their feet, as the person who brought them to DDP speaks to ...

Deaf Priorities in Cambodia: Planning for the Future

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — By the end of the day, the lime green wall was covered with fluttering pieces of white copy paper, some with expressive drawings, others with words in Khmer script. Some of the paper was taped together in ...

Deaf-Hearing Marriages in Cambodia

KAMPONG CHAM, Cambodia – It all began with a funny story followed by an innocent question. A few weeks ago, I visited my friend, Srey. It was the first time I had been inside her home. She was giving me a ...

Structural Violence and the Vulnerable In Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia—My first brush with the medical system in Cambodia was in late November when a close friend had to suddenly leave a luncheon she was hosting at her house to interpret for someone at a hospital. Her ...

Devastation on the Roads of Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia–During a respite from agonizing about how to pack for a ten-day trip to Laos that included a meeting with representatives from the Laotian Association of the Deaf, a three-day Laotian wedding, and sightseeing in scorching heat, ...

Celebrating the Year of the Hoofed Creature that Bleats and Eats Grass

PHNOM PENH—The city has been eerily quiet in recent days. Many businesses are shuttered, gray steel plates blocking their entrances; oval red-and-gold paper lanterns swinging in the light breeze, tassels jerking crazily. The typically chaotic Phnom Penh traffic is ...

Disability as Big Business in Phnom Penh

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia– On almost every side street in Phnom Penh there is a sign, sometimes several in a row, advertising massages by blind people. In addition to these ubiquitous blind massage businesses, there are also shops advertising clothing and ...

Counting Chickens and Pigs

Kampong Thuch, CAMBODIA— After observing the first day of school for deaf adults in Kampot, I joined the Deaf Development Programme (DDP) outreach team as they went into the field. These visits had a dual purpose: follow up with the ...

My Name Is…

KAMPOT, Cambodia– With the faded blue wooden shutters thrown open, I sat at the desk in my sunlit, whitewashed room in a French colonial building on a quiet side street, scrolling through photographs on my laptop. As a gentle breeze ...

Searching for Deaf People

  PHNOM PENH — In the bluish early morning light, we gathered by the gate of Deaf Development Programme (DDP) with our provisions of fully-charged smartphones, water, face masks, cameras and scarves for what promised to be a long day. The ...

Creating a Language by Committee

PHNOM PENH – On the white board, nine words in Khmer are listed in blue. In the cool, dim room, members of the Cambodian Sign Language committee are seated at an oval conference table scattered with the various implements essential to ...

Tracking the Origins of Cambodian Sign Language

PHNOM PENH – In a dim room at the Deaf Community Center in Phnom Penh, I watch as Chamroeun, a deaf Cambodian and staff member at Deaf Development Programme, narrates the history of Cambodia. As history unfolded before my eyes, I ...

Ingenuity in Cross-Cultural Communication

KEP and PHNOM PENH—It never ceases to amaze me how ingenious many Cambodians are when confronted with a deaf tourist. The first time I traveled alone in Cambodia, I quickly learned to point to my ears and use the ...