Hip Hop Apsara: Ghosts Past and Present

Anne Elizabeth Moore


The city of Phnom Penh, Cambodia hosts public dance lessons most nights on a newly revitalized riverfront directly in front of prime minister Hun Sen’s urban home. Shortly before dusk, much of the city gathers to bust a few Apsara moves and learn a couple choreographed hip-hop steps from a slew of attractive young men at the head of each group. Outside the bustling capital city, the provinces come alive, too, as the nation’s only all-girl political rock group sets up concerts that call into question the international garment trade, traditional gender roles, and agriculture under globalization. Cambodia is changing: not what it once was, not yet what it will be.

Following on the heels of Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh, Anne Elizabeth Moore compiled photographs that document Cambodia’s bustling nightlife, the nation’s emerging middle class, and the ongoing struggle for social justice in the beautiful, war-ravaged land.

A series of essays complement the imagery, investigating the relationship between public and private space, mourning and memory, tradition and economic development. It is a document of a nation caught between states of being, yet still deeply affecting.

Sunday Rumpus published an handful of photographs from the book along with a supplementary essay by Moore.


Hip Hop Apsara: Ghosts Past and Present (book trailer) from Anne Elizabeth Moore on Vimeo.

Cover art by: Angee Lennard

Design by: Caroline Picard




Daniel Kraus interviewed Moore for the “Hostile Questions” series of Booklist Online.

Typically I start these things by listing a few accomplishments of the so-called “author.” Y’know, like: Anne Elizabeth Moore was co-editor and publisher of Punk Planet, founding editor of The Best American Comics, and is the author of Cambodian Grrrl. But, really, do you think I have all day for typing and hotlinking and whatnot? Just trust me that she’s behind this thing here and probably this thing there and sweet lord this thing too and is maybe even responsible for these weirdthings. OK? Enough? Could I have one teeny tiny second for myself?

Thank you. OK. Now I’m ready to be rude.

The ever humble Anne Elizabeth Moore, ladies and gentlemen.

Just who do you think you are?

I’m reasonably sure I’m Anne Elizabeth Moore, three-time winner of the Anne Elizabeth Moore Award for Excellence in Awesomeness, not to be confused with Anne Moore, the other Chicago-based reporter who at some point covered the exciting world of women’s shoes for the local press and subsequently became upset when our opposite career paths—I was getting thrown out of American Girl Place at the time, and writing about that—netted her some undeserved letters of concern. And definitely not to be confused with Ann Elizabeth Moore, the first body discovered at Jonestown, Guyana, in November 1978. (I’ll also state for the record that in November 1978, I was super busy doing something else really far away, and 8, so you can’t pin that one on me, Kraus.) There was also an Anne Moore who died about a year and a half ago, and I don’t think I’m her, but I have been really tired lately.

You can read the rest of that interview by going here.

Audio Excerpts

Download the press release

About the Authors

Anne Elizabeth Moore

A Fulbright scholar, Moore is the Truthout columnist behind Ladydrawers: Gender and Comics in the US, and the author of Cambodian Grrrl: Self-Publishing in Phnom Penh (Cantankerous Titles, 2011), Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity (The New Press, 2007) and Hey Kidz, Buy This Book (Soft Skull, 2004). She was co-editor and publisher of the now-defunct Punk Planet, and founding editor of the Best American Comics series from Houghton Mifflin. She has twice been noted in the Best American Non-Required Reading series. Moore teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has lectured around the world on independent media, globalization, and women’s labor issues, and the artist recently mounted a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.