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A Tribute to Heather Peters (1946-2021)

Updated: May 10, 2021

It is with a devastating sadness that we heard of the tragic death of Heather Peters, an humanist, a passionate researcher on minorities around Asia, a lover of Cambodian culture and a dear friend.

According to her life companion David Feingold, Heather was hit by a car during one of her beloved long bike rides by a beautiful Sunday at the end of April, in Philadelphia, USA. The couple was getting ready to travel back to Bangkok, Thailand, where they had resided and worked for many productive years.

A cultural consultant with UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (PROAP) in Bangkok since 1997, Heather was also a socio-cultural expert for the Yunnan Great Rivers Conservation and Development Action Plan Project. Her contribution to the awareness of cultural preservation, sustainable development (including tourism), survival of indigenous peoples, and against the trafficking of girls and women, has been remarkable.

Tirelessly and with a profound empathy, she researched girls’s and women’s education policies and implementation mechanisms in Laos, the role of museums in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the adjustment of refugee from Southeast Asia to Philadelphia, the Tai Yue communities living in Xishuangbanna in Yunnan, China, and the Chu state and culture in Eastern Zhou period of China.

Her last visit to Cambodia occurred in January-February 2020, to take part in the War & Beauty Exhibition and Screengs, two events in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh that I had the honor and pleasure to organize with Anicca Foundation. The exhibit was scheduled to then travel to the American University campus in Paris, but the pandemic forced us to postpone this retrospective of David's work in Cambodian refugee camps in the 1990s until Spring 2022, when many of Heather's UNESCO colleagues will pay tribute to her contribution.

1)Heather and David getting War & Beauty exhibition ready 2)Heather and Marina in a Phnom Penh tuk-tuk 3)Heather at work in Ganzi Xichuan Province

With such a knowledgeable (Heather held a B.A. in Oriental Studies from Barnard College-Columbia University, a M.A. in Chinese Art and Archaeology from Princeton University,a M.Ph. in Anthropology and Ph.D. in Anthropology with specialization in China from Yale University)and open-minded citizen of the world, conversation was always stimulating. Heather also loved art, beautiful handicraft, rare curios,and we happily shared our secret shopping spots in Paris or Bangkok, Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. An outstanding cook, she would gladly prepare delicious feats of a fusion cuisine reflecting her life and interests across the continents.

Heather Peters is and will be cruelly missed.

The funeral ceremony will be held on 14 May 2021. The service will begin at 11 am EST (USA Eastern Standard Time: 11 pm Cambodia Time). From 10:30-11 am, there will be photos and music.

You are invited to join the ceremony online via Zoom Meeting (Meeting ID: 851 8554 5739 | Passcode: peters)

On 7 May 2021, 9-11:30 AM Bangkok time,the Indigenous Peoples and Sustainable Heritage Forum paid a tribute to Heather Peters during the Roundtable Session"Traditional Knowledge and Ecological Sustainability".

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