Udaya was founded in 2000 by Ang Chouléan and Ashley Thompson as the official research publication of the Department of Culture and Monuments of the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA), a then nascent interministerial organ of the Cambodian government. In 2004, with financial support from Friends of Khmer Culture, Inc. (FOKCI), Udaya became an independent journal. The inauguration of the online version, in 2014, coincides with the foundation of Yosothor, a new Cambodian cultural institution. Yosothor is, amongst other things, a publishing venture, and is the new institutional home of Udaya. FOKCI continues to provide financial support.
Udaya is a word of Sanskrit origin used in Khmer since ancient times. Pronounced “outey” in Khmer, it means “rising sun,” and by extension “dawn” or “rebirth.”
Since its foundation in 2000, Udaya has striven to participate in a Cambodian renaissance. The journal provides a forum and a vehicle for renewal in Khmer Studies –a renewal which cannot be entirely isolated from the political, social and economic aspects of a larger transformation ongoing in Cambodia and with respect to Cambodia.
The editorial project of which Udaya is the expression is historically determined, and intentionally so. In its name, its multilingual form and its aims, Udaya is a product and a reflection of the always evolving present in the history of Khmer Studies and of Cambodia. Rather than taking an ahistorical universalist approach to the domain, Udaya is engaged in the lives and times of its “subject.” And yet, the choice to name the journal with this Sanskrit word that has taken an active role over more than a millennium of Khmer civilization, was also made to suggest that rebirth –a kind of continuity established through the very process of change– can be seen as a cultural universal; and that the singularity of the present moment in the history of Cambodia, and of Khmer Studies, is pertinent to the study of culture in general.