Spring 2018 season of lectures at SOAS

Here are the seminars announced for the Spring 2018 season at SOAS.

Check the SOAS website for updates.

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19/01/18Korean Wave Reception and Participatory Fan Culture in Latin America:
Prof. Wonjung Min
03/02/18Colonialism and its Reverberations: ‘Comfort Women’ and Historical Revisionism in Korea and Japan
Professor Yonson Ahn (University of Frankfurt), Professor Chong Yeonghwan (Meiji Gakuin University), Professor Vladimir Tikhonov (University of Oslo) (full details here)
09/02/18Intellectual History and Computing: Digital Approaches to the Study of Korean Confucianism
Dr. Javier Cha
21/02/18The Politics of Sports Mega-Events: The PyeongChang Olympics, Sports Diplomacy, and Media Spectacle
Jaeho Kang, Simon Rofe, Verity Postlethwaite
09/03/18Peculiarities of Urbanization in Juche Country
Dr. Pavel Em

More details below:

Korean Wave Reception and Participatory Fan Culture in Latin America:

Prof. Wonjung Min
19 January 2018, 5:15 – 7:00 PM
Brunei Gallery Room: B111


Although discussing the Korean Wave (or Hallyu in Korean) in Latin America poses special challenges, the sheer scope of the topic makes it especially alluring. The key question is whether the popularity of Korean popular culture in Latin America represents a substantial transnational cross-cultural reception of Korean culture, or merely an ephemeral fan culture. We must consider the socioeconomic gap as well as the generational gap in order to understand the Korean Wave, and the reception of the Korean Wave, especially K-pop and participatory fan culture in Latin America continues to be somewhat sporadic, unstable, and entirely based on cultural interpretations by each individual fan. The focus of this talk is to provide some insight into the lack of equivalence in order to facilitate deeper intercultural understanding. This analysis will use the Korean and Latin American media reports on the concerts of K-pop idol groups from 2012 through 2014.

Speaker Biography

Min Wonjung is a professor in the Department of History and Executive Committee Member of the Asian Studies Center of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She holds a doctorate in Latin American literature and her research areas include intercultural communication between Korea and America, cultural hybridization in identity formation of Korea and Chile and popular culture. Among her numerous articles and books, the followings are notable: “Implicit Notions of Korean Identity: The Absence of Explicit Communication in Korean Hybrid Greetings” (Universum: Revista de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales Vol. 31, N°2, 2016), “Post-unification Inter-Korean Intercultural Communication: Examining the Impact of History Education on New Identity Formation” (S/N Korean Humanities Volume 2 Issue 1, March 2016), “A Short History of the Ups and Downs of Korean Studies in Latin America: Newcomers Meeting the Challenges” (Journal of Contemporary Korean Studies Vol. 2 No. 1, 2015), “Cultural Expectations behind Korean and Chilean Social Greetings and Proxemics” (Language Facts and Perspectives No. 32) and “Korean Wave” (Estudios coreanos para hispanohablantes: un acercamiento crítico, comparativo e interdisciplinario(Wonjung Min, Ed.), pp. 63-79. Ediciones UC, 2015).

Intellectual History and Computing: Digital Approaches to the Study of Korean Confucianism

Dr. Javier Cha
9 February 2018, 5:15 – 7:00 PM
Brunei Gallery Room: B111


This talk demonstrates the use of computational methods to discover hidden collectives and communities from Korean historical data. The overarching question is derived from the intellectual history of early modern Korea, which was defined by the coalescence of several schools of Neo-Confucian thought and literary movements. Such developments took place at a time of increasing localization of population, material resources, state institutions, and culture. In the existing body of research, the connections between the material and ideational aspects of the yangban aristocracy have been unclear, owing in large part to the undue attention given to a small number of famous personalities, source materials, and locations. Can this skewed picture be redrawn from the bottom-up, through a more balanced and fuller use of empirical data? Fortunately for social scientifically-minded historians of Korea, the government of South Korea has aggressively funded the digitization of cultural heritage. Access to this “big data” has allowed me to embark on a critique of existing reified generalities with large-scale data analysis. This kind of data also demands a new type of research concerning social, cultural, and historical entities which may not yet have been identified and therefore not yet been given a label. The data are drawn from two sources: (1) 50,000 civil service examination degree holders and their extended kin and (2) 198 million Sinitic characters of writing extracted from 1200 collected works. The pilot run has already revealed a surprising assemblage of yangban aristocrats interconnected via complex ties of patronage and marriage. As the method gets refined, and more data gets added and cleaned, I expect to discover other hidden entities and groupings. Finally, I will explain the theoretical and philosophical implications of historical entity discovery through computing by engaging with the works of social scientists and philosophers such as Gilles Deleuze, Manuel DeLanda, Norbert Elias, Zhuangzi, and Su Shi.

Speaker Biography

Javier Cha is an assistant professor of East Asian Studies in the College of Liberal Studies at Seoul National University. Before moving to South Korea, he worked in the Netherlands and Hong Kong. As a historian of medieval and early modern Korea, he is interested in the social, philosophical, and geopolitical factors that contributed to Korea’s adoption of the Confucian tradition. Cha is also committed to experimenting with computational methods in historical studies. His current project in digital history involves the discovery of unidentified assemblages using the agnatic and affinal data of 50,000 individuals and the automated classification of 198 million characters worth of writing. In addition to macrohistorical research, Cha has been dabbling in anthropological history in the Annales sense, capturing local knowledge and information using high-resolution photographs, audiovisual sources, and drone footage.

The Politics of Sports Mega-Events: The PyeongChang Olympics, Sports Diplomacy, and Media Spectacle

Jaeho Kang, Simon Rofe, Verity Postlethwaite
21 February 2018, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Russell Square, College Buildings, Room G3


In the midst of a Winter Olympics Games where South Korea is providing a platform for the most talented athletes, it is the politics that has been meddling in the aura of the pure sporting spectacle. From doping to diplomacy, the nation states engaging with PyeongChang have as tough a battle off the arena as on it. This round-table discussion brings together scholars of East Asian, diplomatic, media and Olympic expertise to discuss the ongoing situation. Especially as beyond PyeongChang the Olympic and Paralympic Games are heading to Tokyo for the summer edition in 2020 and the winter edition in Beijing 2022.

Speaker Biographies

Jaeho Kang is Senior Lecturer in Critical Media and Cultural Studies, SOAS. Kang has been working on the sports mega-events in East Asia with particular reference to the media spectacle and the formation of national identity.

Simon Rofe is Inaugural director of CISD’s Global Diplomacy Masters programme (Distance Learning). Currently, teaches on Sport and Diplomacy: “More than a Game”. Research interests lie in diplomacy of international sports.

Verity Postlethwaite is Teaching Fellow, CISD – is exploring how legacy and policy interacted during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Ongoing research more generally about governance and diplomacy of global sporting spectacles.

Peculiarities of Urbanization in Juche Country

Dr. Pavel Em
9 March 2018, 5:15 – 7:00 PM
Brunei Gallery Room B111


More than 60 years have passed since the conclusion of the Korean War, during which the ethnically homogenous nation as a whole was forcibly divided into two. Today, the Republic of Korea, located on the southern part of the peninsula, is a highly developed country with a market economy. whereas the northern part, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is one of the poorest countries in the world. At the same time according to the statistics, the urban population in the DPRK in 2008 had reached 60.9% of the total. After traveling through the cities and towns of the country in May 2016, the Presenter examined Urbanization in Juche Country and conducted an analysis of its peculiarities. The results of this research are going to be presented during the Seminar.

Speaker Biography

Dr. Pavel Em is a Research Fellow at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (École des hautes études en sciences sociales), in Paris. He holds a DSc in Social and Economic Geography from Lomonsov Moscow State University and has published and presented extensively in both English and Russian on urbanisation on the Korean Peninsula.

(automatically generated) Read LKL’s review of this event here.

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