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Future Yet to Come: Sociotechnical Imaginaries in Modern Korea

Editor: Sonja M. Kim and Robert Ji-Song Ku
Author: ,
Publisher: , 2021
Link to online store *

South Korea is home to cutting-edge electronics, state-of-the-art medical facilities, and ubiquitous high-speed internet. The country’s meteoric rise from the ashes of the Korean War (1950–1953) to rank among the world’s most technologically advanced societies is often attributed to state-led promotion of science and technology in nation-building projects. With chapters that discuss Korea’s dynastic past, foreign occupations, Cold War geopolitics, postwar rehabilitation in the twentieth century, and the contemporary neoliberal moment, Future Yet to Come argues that a longer historical arc and broader disciplinary approach better elucidate these transformations. The book’s contributors illuminate the “sociotechnical imaginaries” that promoted, sustained, and contested Korea’s scientific, medical, and technological projects in realizing desired futures.

Focusing special attention on visual culture and the life sciences, the essays present competing visions held by individuals and institutions of power in the use and purpose of scientific engagements. They demonstrate Korean specificities in culture and language, and the myriad social, political, spatial, and symbolic arrangements that shaped incorporations of and changes to existing systems of knowledge and material practices. Whether discussing moral epistemologies, imperialist or developmentalist thrusts in public health regimes, or new configurations of the “self” enabled by bio industries and media technologies, the book expands both the regional and global understanding of translation, accommodation, and transfer. Tracing imaginaries across the vicissitudes of Korea’s past reminds us of their history and makes visible their shifts and resilience in dynamic political economies.

Future Yet to Come reminds us how deeply intertwined science, medicine, and technology are to not only our polities, corporations, and societies but also the very human condition. Bridging histories of science and medicine with anthropologies of technology and the arts, the book will appeal to students and scholars of Korean and East Asian studies as well as those with interests in comparative history of medicine, STS (society and technology studies), art history, media studies, transnationalism, diaspora, and postcolonialism.

Sonja M. Kim is associate professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton.

Robert Ji-Song Ku is associate professor of Asian and Asian American studies at Binghamton University of the State University of New York.

Source: publisher’s website

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