Mediating the Other in South Korea

March 10, 2023 | 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Asian Institute, Centre for the Study of Korea, East Asia

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The event will take place in room 208N, Munk School, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto.
This talk is based on the book, Mediating the Korean Other: Representations and Discourses of Difference in the Post/Neocolonial Nation-State (University of Michigan Press, 2022), edited by David Oh.
Abstract: The book talk addresses the ways in which alterity is mediated in South Korean popular culture. With Korea’s complicated postcolonial legacy with Japan and its neocolonial relationship with the United States, the Korean ethnoscape is produced through a negotiation between various ways of understanding difference: its own indigenous notions of difference, its incorporation and resistance to Japanese notions of difference, and its interpretations of U.S. and Western racial hierarchy. Although racial frames have been applied to the study of Korea and its sensemaking around difference, this book talk argues that doing so is reductive and problematically asserts Western-centrism by applying a Western framework to understand non-Western spaces. Thus, drawing on a postcolonial ethos, Dr. Oh argues that to understand alterity and its mediation in South Korea, it is important to take seriously indigenous epistemologies. To do so, Dr. Oh translates the local word for discrimination, injongchabyeol, to English as “anthrocategorism" in order to recognize that Korea’s construction of alterity is locally specific. It incorporates race and ethnocentrism but, anthrocategorism is not reducible to either. Instead, the representations of anthrocategorism in Korean mediated spaces reflects ambivalent, complex negotiations of multiple types of cultural capital in formulations of who is represented and understood as more valued and normal and who is not. The talk draws upon the various contributions to the edited book to demonstrate the complexities of anthrocategorism in Korean ethno- and mediascapes.
David Oh is an Associate Professor of Communication Arts at Ramapo College of New Jersey. He is the author of Second-Generation Korean American Adolescent Identity and Media: Diasporic Identifications and Whitewashing the Movies: White Subjectivity and Asian Erasure in U.S. Film Culture. He has also co-written Navigating White News: Asian American Journalists at Work (forthcoming) and edited Mediating the Korean Other: Representations and Discourses of Difference in the Post/Neocolonial Nation-State. Dr. Oh writes about Asian/American representation in U.S. media culture, representations of alterity in Korean media culture, and transnational audience reception of Korean media. He serves on eight Editorial Boards in communication, cultural studies, and media studies, and he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar to South Korea in 2018-19 at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Organized by the Centre for the Study of Korea and co-sponsored by Faculty of Information, University of Toronto.
Asian Institute, Centre for the Study of Korea, East Asia


David Oh headshot
David Oh

Associate Professor of Communication Arts, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Sherry Yu
Sherry Yu (chair)

Associate Professor in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media, and the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto