The Multi-Sited History of the Anthropology of Korea

Short Seminar

November 5–7, 2013

The Multi-Sited History of the Anthropology of KoreaThe Multi-Sited History of the Anthropology of KoreaShort Seminar Chaired by Robert Oppenheim, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas–Austin, November 5–7, 2013. Photograph by William GeogheganThe Multi-Sited History of the Anthropology of KoreaShort Seminar Chaired by Robert Oppenheim, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas–Austin, November 5–7, 2013. Photograph by William Geoghegan

The majority of research on past anthropologies of Korea has focused on Japanese anthropologists during and immediately before the Japanese colonial era. This seminar expanded discussion to focus more specifically on the “multi-sitedness” of Korea as an anthropological object. It explored “multi-sitedness” along several different axes—including the overlap and interaction of several national traditions of research, the ways in which Korea has been variously “looked through” as a window onto other phenomena, and the methodological diversity of approaches to the history of Korean anthropology taken by anthropologists and historians.

The papers presented divided themselves loosely into several groups. Laurel Kendall, Robert Oppenheim, and Clark Sorensen presented their work on the American tradition of research. Kyung-soo Chun, Christopher Nelson, and Vladimir Tikhonov explored three other historical traditions of anthropology of Korea – North Korean, Japanese imperialist, and Russian and Soviet views, respectively. The final set of papers cut across various national traditions focusing on objects, tropes or techniques.

In his report on the seminar, Dr. Oppenheim wrote, “It is preliminary to state whether or how these will all be formed into a conference volume. There were certainly several emergent themes—‘lost opportunities,’ ‘silences,’ and ‘materialities,’ to name three—that may perhaps serve to articulate several papers.” He continued, “Some topics were felt as lacking: there was not, for instance, felt to be enough discussion of South Korea’s own anthropology after 1945… That said, the discussions were freewheeling and productive…“

Robert Oppenheim, Chair Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas–Austin The Significance of the Early American Anthropology of Korea
Nancy Abelmann Harry E. Preble Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Margins and Mainstreams in the English Language Ethnography of South Korea
Kyung-soo Chun Professor, Department of Anthropology, Seoul National University North Korean Anthropology since Liberation: Three Main Figures at Formation Period
Laurel Kendall Curator, Asian Ethnographic Collections & Division Chair, Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History So Close to the Canon, but….: of Franz Boas, C.C. Vinton, and Some Korean Things
Hoi-eun Kim Assistant Professor, Department of History, Texas A&M University The Afterlife of Colonial Physical Anthropology in Post-Colonial Korea
Christopher T. Nelson Associate Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Global Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Ifa Fuyū, Koryūkyū, and the Possibilities of Life in a Colonial World
Hyung Il Pai Professor, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara Reproducing Antiquity and Identity: Travel Photography and Mapping Ruins in the Korean Landscape
Sonia Ryang Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Iowa Reading Volcano Island: In the Sixty-fifth Year of the Jeju 4.3 Uprising
Clark W. Sorensen Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington Imagining a Field Site: Preparing for Anthropological Fieldwork in South Korea in the mid-1970s
Vladimir Tikhonov Professor, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, Oslo University “Child-like People”? Russian Discourses on Korea and Koreans, 1850s to 1945

Sponsored by The Korea Foundation and Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies

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