Katherine Brickell is a feminist geographer whose work aims to advance social, political, and development subfields of the discipline. She is journal editor of Gender, Place and Culture and former Chair of the Royal Geographical Society’s (RGS-IBG) Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group. Katherine’s scholarship to date has attracted recognition from the RGS-IBG and Leverhulme Trust in the form of the 2014 Gill Memorial Award and 2016 Philip Leverhulme Prize (respectively). During her current Philip Leverhulme Prize (2017–20), Katherine will complete her monograph Home SOS: Gender, Violence and Survival in Crisis Ordinary Cambodia and develop a body scholarship on feminist legal geographies. As principal investigator, she is currently undertaking her second ESRC-DFID funded study (2017–19) on the relationship between modern slavery and climate change in Cambodian brick kilns (www.projectbloodbricks.org).
Cambodia today is the site of one of the world’s largest microcredit sectors. While it is widely believed that the extension of microcredit to Cambodia’s poor should be cause for all-round celebration, this essay reveals disquieting evidence of a deeply problematic development intervention. Indebted to microcredit institutions, increasing numbers of Cambodia’s poor population have been forced to accept exploitative labour conditions in the garment and construction industry, driven to despair due to the loss of their land, and, in the worst cases, had no choice but to ‘sell’ themselves as bonded labour to brick kilns owners.