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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

East Asian Studies
University Assistant Professor in Korean Studies
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I was born in the historic city of Heidelberg, Germany, and grew up in the region before relocating to South Korea. For my undergraduate education, I indulged in the study of English Literature and Philosophy at Sogang University, a Seoul-based Jesuit school known for its academic culture. After my military service as an Air Force intelligence officer watching Kim Jong Il from afar, I moved to the University of Chicago for a Master’s degree in anthropology, although I soon found myself unexpectedly switching to Korean history. Eventually, I enrolled at Harvard University for my doctoral studies and received a Ph.D. in 2017 with a dissertation on the rise of new religious movements and historiographical practices in early twentieth-century Korea. Prior to coming to Cambridge, UK, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and later also at Johns Hopkins University where I developed and taught several courses on Korean history, religion, and culture, including film, literature, and digital games, in addition to courses and programs on the broader East Asian region.

Research interests: 

My research focuses largely, but not exclusively, on the history of modern Korea. I am interested in the history of knowledge, especially the history of academia and alternative knowledge regimes, historiography and historical memory, as well as new religious movements. I particularly investigate how “scholarly” knowledge has been constructed and delineated by the academic establishment in modern Korea, and how epistemological authority has been contested by forces outside of conventional academic structures. I am also interested in the colonial legacies in post-liberation Korean academia and attempts to decolonize the scholarly sphere in post-colonial societies. In addition, I am eager to investigate new ways of producing and disseminating scholarship in response to the growing challenges of the digital age.

Current PhD students

Annabel Langdon: Imperial Japan and Cheju haenyŏ (female divers)

Undergraduate courses taught