Dr. Theresa de Langis spent her 2020 in the U.S. during the pandemic and was delighted to return to AUPP in 2021 in time for the Fall semester. She is now a professor of Global Affairs and Literature and the Director for the Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
Ask any professor what they like most about the job and they will have the same answer: the students. Every day, in the classroom and outside of it, Theresa is inspired and revitalized by AUPP students—their drive to learn, their creative thinking, and their kindness and care for each other. These days, with the pandemic ongoing and the world so uncertain, that’s a true gift.
Dr. Theresa accomplished her doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA) in 2001 in Literary Theory and Gender Studies, but she completely changed her field after her doctorate! She went into government as the head of an agency for the Commission for the Status of Women for the State of New Hampshire (USA) and worked on legislative and policy reform. In 2008, she joined the UN mission in Afghanistan as Deputy Director of Programmes for UNIFEM (now UN Women) through 2010. She also did a few more assignments with the UN, and it so happened that most were in Asia, so in 2012, she relocated full-time to Cambodia.
By that time, Dr. Theresa was deeply involved in following the proceedings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (ECCC) and undertaking independent research on sexual violence as part of the mass atrocities and genocide during Democratic Kampuchea. She has been so honored to have her Khmer files and transcripts held at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum for public use. It was a highlight of her life to have some of the oral histories about forced marriages serve as a basis for a traditional Khmer opera produced by Sophiline Cheam Shapiro, entitled Pka Sla Krom Angkar, which was selected as an official reparation for victims by the ECCC. These days, she is writing a book on the same topic—a difficult task as she tries to find a way to truly honor the voices of the courageous survivors who spoke to her.
She started teaching part-time at AUPP just after it opened in 2013, and joined full-time in 2016, spearheading the launch of CSEAS in 2017. Maybe she is most known for teaching the Genocide Studies course, but she loves teaching literature, as it opens entirely new ways of looking at our world, its politics, its struggles, and its beauty. AUPP lets her bring together her loose ends, you might say—her experience in international diplomacy and policy analysis, and her Ph.D. in literature and gender studies. You see, life’s path may lead in all kinds of directions, but it always seems to reach home!