Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Literature, Columbia University
Black Radicalism in Korea: Overlapping Dispossessions in Afro-Korean Literary Networks, 1910-1953

My dissertation examines overlooked African American and Korean texts in juxtaposition to reconstruct a lost history of Afro-Korean literary networks from the Korean colonial period (1910-1945) to the Korean War (1950-1953). These transnational networks show the ways in which both African American and Korean authors collaboratively envisioned a cross-racial solidarity against empire. Combining the long-divided fields of African American and Korean literatures and cultures, my dissertation offers a comparative framework that translates racial and cultural differences between African Americans and Koreans into a shared poetic for articulating a radical thought of global civil liberation. Translation, I argue, makes possible this cultural exchange of knowledge production. My dissertation thus brings to light two unexplored modes of translation in the discourse of Afro-Asian convergences. Black intellectuals made use of the metaphorical translation of analogy. They connected the familiar, domestic racial subjugation in the U.S. to the foreign colonial subjugation in Korea. Analogical translation enabled black intellectuals to build Afro-Korean networks of brotherhood as internal victims entrenched in racism within a nation--in Korea's case, the nation being the Japanese empire and later the U.S. quasi-empire during the Cold War era. On the other hand, Korean authors made recourse to the translation of textual poaching. They inserted Korea's colonial dispossession into African American texts of racial dispossession to stage a covert call for anti-colonialism under the exhaustive purview of Japan's imperial surveillance. By integrating a literary history of textual production into an intellectual history of radicalism, my dissertation on Afro-Korean networks yields an archive that illuminates overlapping dispossessions across the Pacific as a means of epistemological analogy for political resistance.