Lecture: Katherine Brickell on blood bricks: modern slavery & climate change in Cambodia
Cambodia is in the midst of a construction boom. The building of office blocks, factories, condominiums, housing estates, hotels, and shopping malls is pushing its capital city upwards. But this vertical drive into the skies, and the country’s status as one of Asia’s fastest growing economies, hides a darker side to Phnom Penh’s ascent. Building projects demand bricks in large quantities and there is a profitable domestic brick production industry using multi-generational workforces of debt-bonded adults and children to supply them.
Moving from the city, to the brick kiln, and finally back to the rural villages once called home, the talk traces how urban ‘development’ is built on unsustainable levels of debt taken on by rural families struggling to farm in one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Phnom Penh is being built not only on the foundation of blood bricks, but also climate change as a key driver of debt and entry into modern slavery in brick kilns. Blood bricks embody the converging traumas of modern slavery and climate change in our urban age.
The study was co-funded by the Economic and Social Research Council & Department for International Development.
For more information see www.projectbloodbricks.org.
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