I’m currently a Visiting Lecturer of Asian American Studies in the American Studies Program at Wellesley College. I was formerly a visiting assistant professor of Asian/Asian American Studies in the Department of German, Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at Miami University in Ohio. I received my PhD in the Cultural Studies Graduate Group, with a designated emphasis in Studies in Performance and Practice, at the University of California, Davis.
My book project, “De/militarizing Empire: The Korean War, US Liberal Freedom, and the Korean Diaspora,” critically remembers a war rendered as forgotten in the US national imaginary and in studies of US empire. The central thrust of my transnational, transmedia project is that the Korean War’s camouflaged violence was the very condition of US liberal empire’s possibility, the forced amnesia of such a condition of its expansive possibilities, and thus, a full accounting of the war’s multiple origins, scattered remains, and artistic reckonings the beginning of US empire’s impossibility. Far from over, and from not mattering, I insist that the Korean War still matters. The last chapter from my dissertation, entitled “Eternal Return of the Saline Body: Michael Joo’s Salt Transfer Cycle,” was the lead essay for a special issue on Asian American Performance Art in the Winter 2011 edition of MELUS: Multiethnic Literature of the US.
I’ve contributed several entries to the Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore and Folklife and Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History. I have also contributed book reviews to the journal Pacific Affairs and 38 North.
I have presented work at national conferences for major academic associations, including Modern Languages Association, the American Studies Association, the Association of Asian American Studies, Cultural Studies Association, and the Dartmouth Futures of American Studies Institute. In recognition of my academic achievements and promise, I was awarded the highly-competitive UC Davis Provost’s Dissertation Fellowship for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Along with my self-designed introductory courses on “Asian/Asian American Studies” and “Asia and Globalization” at Miami, I’ve taught self-designed courses in Asian American media, history, and theater at UC Davis, Hunter College, and San Quentin State Prison. I utilize my performance background, bizarre sense of humor, and Jeremy Lin references to ensure my students’ rapt attention–for which I was awarded “Outstanding TA in Asian American Studies” at UC Davis for the 2008-2009 academic year.
Click here for my C.V.
Research & Dissertation
My research focuses on the ways in which the Korean War shapes transnational cultural practices. I argue that a proper understanding of the genealogies and ghostly traces of the Cold War requires a thorough reckoning with the constitutive matter of what’s known in the US as the “forgotten war,” or more aptly called, the “unknown war.” Scholars in several fields have addressed the Korean War as well as the ways in which it has shaped American and Asian American culture. Historians such as Bruce Cumings, Charles Armstrong, and Dong-Choon Kim have documented the local, regional, and global events that led to the first major Cold War conflict and its subsequent development of security states in the US and in both Koreas. Within American studies, meanwhile, scholars such as Christina Klein, Ron Robbins, and Alan Nadel have included the Korean War, especially 1950s anxieties over the “brainwashing” of American prisoners of war (POWs), within a broader discussion of the Cold War’s impact on mid-century US culture. And in Asian American studies, a few scholars have unpacked the various legacies of the Korean War, from Elaine Kim’s pioneering work on Korean- and Asian American literature, to Laura Hyun Yi Kang’s influential analysis of Asian American representations of Korean “comfort” women, to Jodi Kim’s recent reframing of Asian American cultural productions like Deann Borshay Liem’s documentary First Person Plural as “Cold War compositions.”
However, despite much excellent work on Korean War-related formations such as US military camp towns and transracial adoption none of these works have adequately addressed how the Korean War and its multiple legacies continues to shape the production, circulation, and reception of transnational cultural practices between the Korean peninsula, the Asian-Pacific region, the US, and Europe. Without such an understanding, we are left with an inadequate analysis that reinforces the notion that the Korean War no longer matters.
Far from over, and from not mattering, I insist that the Korean War still matters. This is precisely what I argue in my book project, “De/militarizing Empire: The Korean War, US Liberal Freedom, and the Korean Diaspora.” My transnational, transmedia project intervenes in the study of war, empire, and militarism, and the diasporic toll of their collateral damage by critically remembering a war rendered as forgotten in the US national imaginary and in studies of US empire. Indeed, the central thrust of my project is that the Korean War’s camouflaged violence was the very condition of US liberal empire’s possibility, the forced amnesia of such a condition of its expansive possibilities, and thus, a full accounting of the war’s multiple origins, scattered remains, and artistic reckonings the beginning of US empire’s impossibility. And it is the still present matter of a war without end that illuminates exile, conflict, and security as the mutually-constitutive conditions and perpetual consequences by which the 38th parallel extends from the Korean DMZ, through President Obama’s Asian-Pacific pivot, and into the wounded, wondrous heartland of the Korean diaspora. I am currently in conversation with the editor-in-chief of NYU Press about the publication of my book project for their Warfare and Culture series.
The diverse range of archival documents, material practices, and cultural productions I study register the transnational traffic of de/militarization as it reverberates between the divided edge of empire and the heartland of Korean/America. In the summer of 2010, with the support of a research travel grant from the Association of Asian Studies (Northeast Asia Council) and the Korea Foundation, I conducted extensive archival research at the National Archives II and the Library of Congress in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Findings included declassified blueprints of the construction of the Joint Security Area (JSA), declassified Korean War correspondences among representatives of participating nations in the United Nations Command (UNC), National Security Council (NSC) papers on U.S. foreign policy objectives in Asia and in Korea, US military documentaries, and popular mid-century US magazines. Given the immense ecological diversity of DMZ’s landscape, the multitude of discourses that have shaped (and have been shaped by) the DMZ, the numerous geopolitical actors that claim the DMZ for various ends, and the wide circulation of cultural representations of the DMZ, a rigorous analysis of the DMZ, as a transnational space of US Cold War empire, demands multiple theoretical frameworks and multiple methodologies.
Fellowships, Grants, and Awards:
- Association For Asian American Studies/East Of California Junior Faculty Workshop (2015)
- UC Davis Provost’s Dissertation Year Fellowship in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (2013-2014)
- Northeast Asia Council/Korea Foundation Korean Studies North America Research Travel Grant (2010)
- Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program Summer Internship (2010)
- UC Davis Washington Program Summer Graduate Internship Award (2010)
- The City University of New York/Professional Staff Congress Adjunct Professional Development Fund (2010)
- UC Davis Outstanding Teaching Assistant of Asian American Studies (2008-2009)
- Book Review: DMZ Crossing: Performing Emotional Citizenship Along the Korean Border. Suk-Young Kim. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. In Pacific Affairs (forthcoming, June 2016 Volume 89, No. 2).
- Book Review: Visual Politics and North Korea. David Shim. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. In 38 North.
- “The Unorthodox Wisdom of Dennis Rodman.” Korea Policy Institute, 13 August 2013. Online.
- “Richard Park.” Asian Americans: An Encyclopedia of Social, Cultural, Economic, and Political History, Eds. Edward J.W. Park and Xiaojian Zhao, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2012.
- “Eternal Return of the Saline Body: Michael Joo’s Salt Transfer Cycle.” MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S. Vol. 36, Issue 4 (Winter 2011).
- “Bruce Lee,” “Folk Dance and Performance in Korean America,” and “Korean America: History, People, and Culture,” Encyclopedia of Asian American Folklore, Eds. Jonathan H. X. Lee and Kathleen Nadeau, Santa Barbara: Greenwood Press, 2010.
Academic Presentations (partial list)
- “Anatomizing the Asian/American Body: Zebras, Cylons, and British Empire in Michael Joo’s Untitled 2009 Show.” Association for Asian American Studies Conference, Evanston, IL, April 25 2015
- “De/militarized Garden of Feelings: Jihae Hwang’s DMZ Forbidden Garden.” Mid-Atlantic Conference for British Studies, Johns Hopkins University, March 27 2015
- “De/militarizing Empire: The Nonpatriated Asian Prisoner of the Korean War, the Korean DMZ, and De/militarized Structures of Feeling.” Diaspora Cluster Lecture Series (invited), University of Illinois-Chicago, March 4 2015
- “’If that’s Communism, Sign Me Up’: Fantasies of Forced Indebtedness in the Marketing of Homefront.” American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., November 21 2013
- ‘Please Believe Us With Your Heart’: The Birth of the DMZ.” Cold War in Asia Conference, University of Chicago, April 26 2013
- “’Please Believe Us With Your Heart’: The Birth of the DMZ.” Cultural Studies Graduate Group Colloquium Series, University of California, Davis, December 6 2012
- “Wearing the Korean War(drobe): Humanitarian Empire, Fashioned Miracles, and Sartorial Biopolitics,” Association for Asian American Studies Conference, April 11-14 2012
- “The Immortal Regiment: The 7th Cavalry, the American Frontier, and the Korean DMZ,” Dartmouth Futures of American Studies Institute, June 24 2011
- “Empire’s Frontier: The Korean DMZ.” Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, August 2 2010
- “Scariest Place in the World or Accidental Paradise? Tourism, Ecology, and the Korean DMZ,” Harvard East Asian Society Graduate Student Conference, February 25 2010
- “’Robots in Disguise’: Asian Americans, Racial Passing and Permanent War in Transformers,” Cultural Studies Association Conference, Division of Culture and War, March 20 2008
- “Endangered Acts, Dangerous Species: Michael Joo’s Salt Transfer Cycle,” Modern Language Association Annual Convention, December 29 2008
- “Resident Alien: Seung-Hui Cho and the Asian American Terrorist,” 2008 Texas Tech Comparative Literature Symposium on “War, Empire, and Culture,” April 11 2008