Resistance and Alternatives: A Mini Conference from the Centre for the Study of Korea

April 5, 2024 | 1:00PM - 5:00PM
Asian Institute, Centre for the Study of Korea

This event is over

The Boardroom, 315 Bloor Stree West, University of Toronto
This mini conference is organized as a way of imagining and practicing resistance and alternatives to “conventional” Korean Studies, which have often disengaged with decolonial, transnational, feminist, and queer perspectives. We would like to bring together scholars who have expanded the epistemological horizons of the ways of studying “Korea” beyond its geographical designation by making the silenced voices audible, the unexplored insights visible, and discrete locations of resistance connected. We would like to generate radical, yet constructive, conversations about scholarly practice of undoing hegemonic knowledge and towards methodological alternatives for critical knowledge praxis here and now.
There will be three presentations from Laura Hyun Yi Kang, Nadia Y. Kim, and Suzy Kim
Writing Sallim: Social Reproduction and Korean Women’s Diasporic World-Making
By Laura Hyun Yi Kang
Abstract: This presentation considers the change of researching, reading, and writing about women’s social reproductive labor in and across very different nodes of the Korean diaspora. The first part outlines the promises and limitations of several possible methods and approaches. The second part will focus on the challenges of reading and translating posed by Herstories, 다시 만난 코리안 디아스포라 여성들의 삶 이야기, a collection of twelve “life stories” of women in the Korean diaspora, which was published in 2021.
Laura Hyun Yi Kang is Professor and former Chair of Gender & Sexuality Studies and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Traffic in Asian Women (2020) and Compositional Subjects: Enfiguring Asian/American Women (2002). Kang has edited two anthologies, writing away here: a korean/american anthology (1994) and Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings (2002), which was co-edited by Elaine H. Kim.
Beyond the Sheen: There’s No South Korea without Empire and its Discontents
by Nadia Y. Kim
Abstract: Its quick rise to one of the highest positions atop the global order, glimmering high rises boosted by the best broadband in the world, its hot Kpop idols, movie stars, and global trendsetting in beauty and shopping cannot hide a crucial fact: it took empire by vicious outside powers and literal flows of blood, sweat, and tears to get an Asian country like South Korea to this high point. These flows persist today but in more hidden and indirect ways, even in the cool idol factory. But this is not merely a story of Koreans suffering Han, rising up in resistance, and being categorical victims at the hands of Japanese-US militarized and capitalized empire and war, but of how the Korean state and civil society across borders also remap this violent, unjust system of stratification and hierarchy. It is a system rooted in extreme neoliberal capitalism, ethnonationalist racism, dogged heteropatriarchy/misogyny, Confucian honor/shame, and conservative Christianity, all with ties to Japanese colonization and US imperialism and their ongoing tentacles. Hence, decolonization and recolonization happen at once; this talk will explore the nature of this and that as true, and the implications for the future of this soft power capital of the world.
Nadia Kim is a Claudius M. Easley Faculty Fellow Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on US race and citizenship hierarchies concerning Korean/Asian Americans and South Koreans, race and nativist racism in Los Angeles (e.g., 1992 LA Unrest), environmental (in)justice, immigrant women, and comparative racialization of Latinxs, Asian Americans, and Black Americans, and race theory. Throughout her work, Kim’s approach centers (neo)imperialism, transnationality, and the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and citizenship. In addition to numerous articles, Dr. Kim has written two multi-award-winning books. Refusing Death: Immigrant Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in LA (Stanford University Press 2021) examines Asian and Latina immigrant women's movements for clean air, and Imperial Citizens: Koreans and Race from Seoul to LA (Stanford University Press 2008) is an exploration of how immigrants navigate American imperial racism. Her book co-edited with Dr. Pawan Dhingra, Disciplinary Futures: Sociology in Conversation with American, Ethnic, and Indigenous Studies, addresses how sociology (and other social sciences) benefit from engaging with critical ethnic studies. Kim has long intersected her scholarship with her social justice work, organizing on such issues as affirmative action, immigration, feminism, and environmental justice.
Among Women across Worlds for Peace in Korea and Beyond
by Suzy Kim
Abstract: While both feminism and pacifism may appear to have stagnated in the 1950s with the rise of Cold War domesticity and McCarthyism, the Korean War galvanized women to promote women’s rights in the context of the first global peace campaign during the Cold War. Recuperating the erasure of North Korean women from this movement, this talk excavates buried histories of Cold War sutures to show how leftist women tried to bridge the Cold War divide through maternalist strategies. Socialist feminism in the context of a global peace movement facilitated a productive understanding of “difference” toward a transversal politics of solidarity. The talk weaves together the women’s press with photographs and archival film footage to contemplate their use in transnational movements of resistance and solidarity, both then and now.
Suzy Kim is a historian and author of the prize-winning book Everyday Life in the North Korean Revolution, 1945-1950 (Cornell 2013). She holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, and teaches at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her newest book Among Women across Worlds: North Korea in the Global Cold War (Cornell 2023) was completed with the support of the Fulbright Program and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is senior editor of positions: asia critique and serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Korean Studies and Yŏsŏng kwa yŏksa [Women and History], the journal of the Korean Association of Women’s History.
Jesook Song is a Professor at the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology with a certificate in Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA. Mediating Gender, her co-edited volume with Michelle Cho, is scheduled to come out in the University of Michigan Press in early 2024.
Yoonkyung Lee
Sponsor: Centre for the Study of Korea, Asian Institute
Asian Institute, Centre for the Study of Korea


Laura Hyun Yi Kang

Professor, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California, Irvine

Nadia Y. Kim

Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University

Suzy Kim

Professor of Korean History, Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Rutgers University

Jesook Song

Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto