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Homeless, Abandoned: Affective Lives in Post-industrial South Korea With Dr. Jong Bum Kwon

Champaign , USA
1080 Foreign Languages Building, Lucy Ellis Lounge (707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana)

1080 Foreign Languages Building, Lucy Ellis Lounge (707 S. Mathews Ave., Urbana)

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Speaker Jong Bum Kwon of Webster University will give a talk on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus titled Affective Lives in Post-Industrial South Korea.

Speaker: Professor Jong Bum Kwon, Webster University

It’s been two decades since the disastrous Asian financial crisis; it’s been two decades since the dismantling of South Korea’s authoritarian, Fordist developmental regime. The ensuing decades have been broadly characterized as neoliberal, precarious, and compressed, as scholars have sought to capture the celerity and welter of social-cultural change related to stark economic inequality, casualization of employment, and deepened global connection. Much of the recent anthropological attention has focused on the broad category of youth (as emergent generations of loss), documenting the production of new subjectivities through their navigation of heightened competition, foreclosed social mobility, and illusory promises of global cosmopolitanism. This presentation aims to shift attention back to an earlier “lost generation” – predominantly male, industrial workers, who (as I have argued elsewhere) have become anachronisms in both public and scholarly imaginaries.

Drawing upon recent anthropological thinking on post-Fordist affect and precarity I examine the particular articulations of loss, longing, and “cruel optimism” (Berlant 2011) shared by Korea’s new primitives. My aim is to contribute to a comparative understanding of the effects and affects of deindustrialization, shedding light on non-Western experiences, to develop a more complex consideration of Korean working class masculinities and highlight native Korean affective cultural forms. My presentation, then, explores under-studied dimensions of Korea’s neoliberal turn, emphasizing not the production of new subjectivities but strained attachments to the past.

Cost: Free

Contact: Alex Lee