No need for blows in martial arts row

Khmer traditional martial arts, or “Kun Lbokator”, was among this year’s 22 new inscriptions to Unesco’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (ICH), as announced at the 17th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was convened from Nov 28 to Dec 3 2022, in Rabat, Morocco.

While this news has been received by the global public with enthusiasm, new inscriptions do not always escape regional controversy. Indeed, cultural practices from closely neighbouring countries can share fascinating, cross-border histories, leading some impassioned observers on one side of the fence to question the historical and contemporary status of another country’s intangible cultural practices.

To judge by much recent Thai social media commentary, such was the case with Cambodia’s successful Unesco inscription this year of Khmer martial arts, or “Kun Lbokator”.

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