I received BA and MA in Anthropology from Seoul National University, and MA and Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. I am currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, Loyola Marymount University. Before I joined LMU, I served as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in the Department of Anthropology and the College at the University of Chicago.
My anthropological scholarship concerns the global circulation of commodities and the reconfiguration of nationalist imaginaries across South Korea and China. My dissertation, Manufacturing “Korea” in China: The Coproduction of Commodity Value and Nationalist Imaginaries in the Chinese Kimchi Industry, examines how “Korean” kimchi is produced and distributed in China. Based on 13 months of fieldwork in a kimchi factory in Qingdao, China, my dissertation reveals how Korean-Chinese entrepreneurs reflect on and respond to the changing economic and political conditions across China and South Korea. The dissertation analyzes their decision-making processes in product design, logistical coordination, and marketing as ways to articulate their views on the relationship between producers and consumers, societies and markets, and “Korea” and “China.” In so doing, I view their making of “Koreanness” as speculative efforts to produce commodity value, which conditions and is conditioned by the reconfiguration of nationalist imaginaries across South Korea and China. By attending to the nationalist worldviews embedded in the commodity supply chain, my research explores how the mobilities of commodities, people, and capital are coordinated for overcoming and performing the distance between “Korea” and “China.” My dissertation research was funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Paulson Institute, University of Chicago Center in Beijing, as well as by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Division of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.
My dissertation and publications combine multimedia methods and media analysis to explore how discriminatory worldmaking is situated in the aesthetic configuration of “cultures.” My photographic article, “Reading from Cutouts: The Aesthetics of Alienation in the Photos of Chinese Factory Workers” (under review by Anthropology and Photography), analyzes how photographic practices and aesthetics reflect the social marginalization of factory workers in China. My Korean article in the edited volume, “THAAD Scandal and “Koreas” in the Chinese Market,” discusses how the political imaginaries of “Korea” and “China” are articulated in the relationship between “Chinese” consumers and “Korean” products. I am also an ethnographic filmmaker. My documentary "Chejian: Working and Living between Vehicles" (post-production) was selected for film pitch at the American Anthropological Association & Canadian Anthropology Society Annual Meeting in 2019. Exploring the transborder circulation of “Korean” kimchi, my research shows how economic development in East Asia conditions nationalistic and patriotic sentiments, which have been historically shaped through (post)colonial, Cold War, and neoliberal encounters.
I am also participating in the project "Logistics in the Making of Mobile Worlds" with Julie Chu, Jennifer Cole, Harini Kumar, and Jack Mullee, a multi-year collaborative research project funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. At the University of Chicago and Loyola Marymount University, I have taught courses on social theory, anthropology, and Asian Studies.