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Korea Speaker Series promotes discussion of emerging research

Korea Speaker Series promotes discussion of emerging research

There’s far more to Korea than kimch’i, Gangnam style, or the Kim family cult, says York history Professor Janice Kim, organizer of the 2012-2013 YCAR Korea Speaker Series.

The series is designed to introduce students and faculty to recently published and emerging research on North and South Korea and their relations with their Northeast Asian neighbours, such as China and Japan. Over the last decades, the number of Korean studies specialists at York and in the Toronto area has grown exponentially from a few faculty members to a few dozen, says Kim. The series hopes to highlight this change and offer a forum for researchers, students and the local Korean-Canadian community.

The first year of the series will focus on 20th-century Korean history, with scholars speaking on imperialism, the Second World War, the Korean War, forced migration and the social issues associated with the formation of the DPRK and the ROK.

Takashi Fujitani will present the first lecture of the series Monday, Nov. 26 at 3pm at 280A York Lanes, Keele campus. His talk, co-presented with the Department of History, examines “Reflections on Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans during World War II”. Fujitani is the Dr. David Chu Professor and Director in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Splendid Monarchy: Power and Pageantry in Modern Japan (1998) and co-editor of Perilous Memories: The Asia Pacific War(s) (2001). His most recent book Race for Empire: Koreans as Japanese and Japanese as Americans during World War II (2011) will form the basis for this lecture.

Fujitani will reflect on his reinterpretation of nationalism, racism and wartime mobilization during the Asia-Pacific war. He uses parallel case studies of Koreans recruited or drafted into the Japanese military and of Japanese Americans mobilized to serve in the US Army, to examine how the US and Japanese empires struggled to manage racialized populations while waging total war. He demonstrates that the United States and Japan became increasingly alike over the course of the war, perhaps most tellingly in their common attempts to disavow racism even as they reproduced it in new ways and forms.

Kim will discuss her research on everyday life in Pusan as a refugee capital Feb. 7, 2013 when she delivers her talk, “Refuge, Relief, and Resettlement in the Temporary Capital Pusan, 1950-1953”. She will focus in on the most salient characteristics of wartime Pusan: overwhelming poverty, increasing marketization that was predominantly illegal or informal and its role as a US military base.

The final speaker in the series is Andre Schmid, a professor in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. His current research interests include the history of the cultural Cold War in post-Korean War peninsula, as well as early 20th century peasant movements. He is the author of Korea Between Empires, 1895-1919 (Columbia University Press), winner of the Association of Asian Studies John Whitney Hall award, and has published in journals such as Journal of Asian Studies, South Atlantic Quarterly and Yoksa munje yon'gu. In his talk, Schmid will examine the reconstruction of North Korea and the role of socialist living. The date of this talk in late March 2013 is to be confirmed.

The second year (2013-2014) of the series will concentrate on issues of labour, migration, mobility and cultural change experienced at the turn of the 21st century. The York Centre for Asian Research (YCAR) hopes to turn the series into a larger project inviting international scholars by 2014, says Kim.

For more information about the YCAR Korea Speaker Series, contact the York Centre for Asian Research at

Republished courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin to research stories on the research website.