We are sad to give the devastating news of the death of Y-Dang Troeung (張依蘭) (ទ្រឿងអ៊ីដាង) on November 27th, 2022, of pancreatic cancer. Y-Dang was a brilliant author, educator, and the most caring and loving mother, daughter, sister and companion.
Born in January 1980 in Khao-I-Dang refugee camp, which became her namesake, Y-Dang migrated with her family to Canada as Cambodian refugees. They settled in Goderich, Ontario, in December 1980. Y-Dang was soon found to be a gifted and sensitive child. A voracious reader and brilliant student throughout her life, Y-Dang went on to receive her Ph.D. in English Literature from McMaster University under the guidance of her late supervisor, Donald Goellnicht, and was awarded a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Southern California in 2011. In 2012, Y-Dang migrated to Hong Kong, where she worked for six years as an Assistant Professor of English at the City University of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, she met her spouse, Chris, gave birth to her son, Kai, and traveled frequently across Asia, and especially to Cambodia. In 2018, she settled in Vancouver, Canada, where she worked as an Assistant Professor of English at the University of British Columbia (UBC), until her untimely death.
Y-Dang’s scholarship was grounded in her personal experience as a Cambodian refugee. Her research and teaching focused on the fields of transnational Asian literatures, critical refugee studies, global south studies, and critical disability studies. Her book, Refugee Lifeworlds: The Afterlife of the Cold War in Cambodia, uses historical archives and family anecdotes to illuminate the refugee experience, and the enduring impact of war, genocide, and displacement in the lives of Cambodian people. Before her death, Y-Dang was at work on various projects, including a short film, Easter Epic, and a family memoir, Landbridge. Her life was a gift to anyone who knew her, and these works will long be regarded as treasures that reflect her brilliant and compassionate mind. When we read her work, we feel her close to us, and are comforted by her continued presence.
Y-Dang was a passionate educator and intellectual. In Hong Kong, she was the recipient of City University of Hong Kong's Teaching Excellence Award. At UBC, she was a faculty affiliate of the Asian Canadian Studies and Migration Program (ACAM), an Associate Editor of the journal Canadian Literature, and a 2020 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. In 2021, Y-Dang organized the art exhibition at the Bophana Center in Phnom Penh, “Remembering Cambodian Border Camps, 40 Years Later.” In 2022, she guest-edited a special issue of the journal Canadian Literature entitled “Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War.”
Y-Dang’s life was enriched by friends, family, and books. She had deep passions for travel, exploration, and new experiences, but also sought the comforts of family and home. During her illness, many came forward to support her with food, discussions, advocation, advice, and most of all, warmth and love. She leaves behind all these loving people, including her husband Christopher Patterson, their son Kai Troeung, her parents, Heung and Yok Troeung, her brothers, Meng and Pheng Troeung, her niece, Sophia Troeung, her cousin Mary Tsoi, and many friends and extended family.
Through her life and work, Y-Dang impacted many in a multitude of ways, and her published works will continue to do so for future generations. Y-Dang fought and struggled and loved with intensity for all her life. She is now at peace and at rest.
Pronunciation of "Y-Dang Troeung"
Y-Dang's book, Refugee Lifeworlds: The Afterlife of the Cold War in Cambodia.
Information about Y-Dang's short film, Easter Epic.
Y-Dang's Art Exhibition, "Remembering Cambodian Border Camps 40 Years Later."
Y-Dang's special issue of Canadian Literature on "Refugee Worldmaking."
An educational video about Y-Dang made by students for the Huron County Museum.
Y-Dang’s last public speech about her research, from UBC’s Social Justice Institute.
Y-Dang’s essay in Brick Magazine, Boneyards of the Cold War, written under her penname KID TEO.