Autumn 2017 season of lectures at SOAS

by Events Editor on 3 September, 2017

in Event Notices, SOAS, Talks and seminars

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Here are the seminars announced for the Autumn 2017 season at SOAS.

Check the SOAS website for updates.

29/09/17 Reimagining the Self: North Korean Multiple Migrants’ Remaking Time and Place in Contemporary Japan
Dr Markus Bell
06/10/17 TBA
Dr. Diana Yuksel
02/11/17 Yi Sang’s Queer Time in Colonial Korea
Prof. John Treat
17/11/17 Dynamics and Change in Korean Buddhist Rituals
Dr. Marek Zemanek

More details below:

Reimagining the Self: North Korean Multiple Migrants’ Remaking Time and Place in Contemporary Japan

Dr Markus Bell
29 September 2017, 5:15 PM – 7:00 PM
Brunei Gallery Room B102


Between December 1959 and July 1984 approximately 87,000 Koreans migrated to North Korea from Japan as part of a repatriation project. In the last decade, some 300 men, women, and children have returned to Japan, completing a migratory loop between the Korean Peninsula and the Japanese Archipelago. Multiple migrations generate narratives fragmented by dislocation and relocation and tenuously held together by memories of journey. Such narratives, traversing place, space, and ideology unsettle the migrant’s self-understanding. In this paper I ask who are the repair artists of these fractured life worlds? Sometimes, it is kin. Other times, elements of civil society help to patch together the lives of these individuals. Occasionally, the building and rebuilding of ties to the new home falls on the new arrivals themselves. Within this process memory, and identity are inextricably linked in contributing to the migrant’s renewed sense of belonging.

Based on a year of ethnographic fieldwork in Japan, this paper illustrates the importance of memory to multiple migrants. I discuss cases of ‘natal returnees’- a person born in Japan, who migrated to the DPRK and who now returns to Japan – and ‘imagined returnees’ – individuals born in the DPRK to parents from Japan. I describe how returnees from North Korea reimagine the past in acts of ‘memory play’. This memory play allows them to engage with and reconceptualise connections to people and places that may have previously only existed in their imagination.

Speaker Biography

Markus Bell is a social and cultural anthropologist currently based at the School of East Asian Studies, Sheffield University. His current research uses ethnographic research methods to examine contemporary out-migration from North Korea. Markus is particularly interested in the significance of multiple migrants’ memories of movement and resettlement in shaping a diasporic identity. These issues are contextualised within the larger social processes and historical forces that shaped the latter half of the twentieth century in Northeast Asia, and the epoch defining challenges that continue to cast a long shadow on relations between North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. Markus is currently working on a book manuscript based on his research in Korea and Japan titled, ‘Heaven Across the Water: Migration, Memory, and Identity in North Korea’.

Yi Sang’s Queer Time in Colonial Korea

Prof. John Treat
2 November 2017, 5:15 PM – 7:00 PM
Brunei Gallery Room B102


Yi Sang (1910-37), remembered as colonial Korea’s most renowned literary Modernist and famed libertine, was controversial in his own day for what now he is celebrated: his works’ wayward sexuality as well as their avant-garde poetics, all written under the stranglehold of Japanese imperial rule. This lecture will discuss Yi Sang’s signature short story, “Wings” (Nalgae, 1936), and how “time,” as both queer theory and postcolonial criticism propose it, shaped this classic of modern Korean literature.

Speaker Biography

John TreatJohn Whittier Treat is Emeritus Professor at Yale University. He is the author of Writing Ground Zero: Japanese Literature and the Atomic Bomb(Chicago, 1995), Great Mirrors Shattered: Homosexuality, Orientalism and Japan (Oxford, 1999) and a novel, The Rise and Fall of the Yellow House (Big Table Publishing Company, 2015). He has published on authors Yi Kwang-su in the Journal of Asian Studies and Im Hwa in Trans-Humanities; and his work on Chang Hyŏk-chu appears in the University of Hawai’i Press volume The Affect of Difference: Representations of race in East Asian Empire. Treat’s The Rise and Fall of Modern JapaneseLiterature is forthcoming in 2018 from the University of Chicago Press, and he is currently writing a book on pro-Japanese Koreans writers under Japanese rule.

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