Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire
— William Butler Yeats

Sarah K. Youngblutt

Mrs. Sarah Youngblutt is a PhD Candidate within the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS). Her work examines the effectiveness of International agencies in the protection, conservation and presentation of Cambodian heritage places. She is the founding director of SAA:SEARCH (2008-2014)— a not-for-profit organization constructed to capacity build institutes of archaeology in Southeast Asia,— and has worked as a field archaeologist in Cambodia, Canada and Australia. Sarah is a member of the BC Association of Professional Archaeologists, the Society for American Archaeologists and the Canadian Archaeological Association. She has worked for a variety of academic institutions, as both a teacher and researcher including UNESCO, the Australian Defense Force Academy and the Australian National University. At present, she teaches for Selkirk College in Nelson BC in Canada. With three young children of her own, she is concerned about the next generation of Cambodian youth, specifically their ability to access affordable education. 

Leiden University (LIAS)- PhD Candidate

University of British Columbia- Masters in Asian Pacific Policy Studies (2011)

University of British Columbia- Asian Studies (2008), and Anthropological Archaeology (2009)


Following a Masters Degree in Asia Pacific Policy Studies (MAPPS) in the Institute of Asian Research (IAR) at UBC, I embarked on an Internship with UNESCO Bangkok (2011). In 2012, I began a PhD with the Universite de Montreal, with the former Chairperson of UNESCO, who had participated in the inscription of the Preah Vihear site. With knowledge of the complexities surrounding UNESCO World Heritage Site inscriptions, I then transferred to the Australian National University (2012) to approach the region as archaeologist. In 2015, I transferred into the University of Leiden to continue my research and work with experts. Today I examine the effectiveness of international agencies in the protection, conservation and presentation of Cambodian Heritage places; I believe this is where archaeology meets critical heritage studies in Cambodia.

  Dharmaksetre, 2007

Dharmaksetre, 2007


Sarah Youngblutt PhD research:

A Diachronic Analysis of the Process of Heritage Management in Cambodia


The Angkor World Heritage Area (AWHA) continues to enrapture minds and hearts. Following Cambodia's civil war, the preservation of its magnificent monuments has developed into a billion-dollar industry with investors from around the world.  Since 1993, more than 36 countries, 12 intergovernmental groups and 38 international teams have contributed millions of dollars to conservation, restoration, research and sustainable development projects in the AWHA.

Sustained foreign investment has created a cycle of state dependency on tourism to the Angkor sites, placing high demands on foreign aid to conserve the sites, develop the tourism sector, rectify damage to the sites from tourism, and foster off the beaten track excavations.

Within this unstable environment, the varied interests of International Agencies (under UNESCO's ICC-Angkor umbrella), and the local APSARA National Authority (APSARA) reveal an imbalance of technical and financial capacity on the ground.

Inspired by the work of James Ferguson's Anti-Politics Machine, this research examines the social effect of an international development apparatus for heritage management in Cambodia. While addressing cultural barriers within international teams, between locals and remote stakeholders and in contrasting conservation styles, this work reveals that competing values and priorities among stakeholders disable the success of site management systems in the Angkor Park. 

Importantly, with adherence to the mandate and articles presented in the 1972 World Heritage Convention, this work addresses the extent to which Article 5(e), a policy established to foster national capacity building, has been fulfilled in the country of Cambodia. How active have States Parties been in their efforts to support the Cambodian capacity to protect, conserve and present their heritage?

This critical research suggests ways in which international capacity-building strategies can be tailored to address cultural priorities on the ground, with suggestions toward best practices Cambodia’s other WHS properties: Preah Vihear (2008) and Sambor Prei Kuk (2017).

Education is the most powerful instrument we can use to change the world
— Nelson Mandela

 Sarah Youngblutt - nung nawn, 2005