[KS] women ph.d.'s in korean history

Vladimir Tikhonov vladimir.tikhonov at east.uio.no
Wed Jan 19 10:01:45 EST 2005

Dear colleagues,

In connection with this ongoing discussion on possible gender imbalances in 
the field, may I ask you one question - partly born out of my ignorance? 
The impression my meetings with the American colleagues left on me was that 
ethnic/racial minorities (excluded ethnic Koreans), and the Afro-Americans 
in particular, were somewhat underrepresented in the K.S. field, and the 
same looked true also for some other sub-fields of Asian Studies in the US 
I had contact with. To be sure, I don't remember meeting any tenured 
Afro-Americans in the K.S. from the USA - but maybe, I simply don't have 
enough knowledge about such people? In fact, I was quite surprised, because 
in old USSR, despite all its shortcomings, the Asian Studies academia was 
fairly multiethnic, and the K.S. were not an exception - in addition to 
Russian/other Slavs/Russified Jews, there were/are colleagues of Georgian, 
Hakasian, Kazakh origins, and so on. Has this underrepresentation of the 
people of colour something to do with the general conditions of the 
American life, or maybe with the ways the field as such was/is constructed? 
In fact, in the spirit of post-colonial attention to the subjectivity of 
the researcher, I would suggest that the Afro-American experience of being 
violently displaced/internally colonized might provide an interesting angle 
in dealing with many Korean questions.

Vladimir Tikhonov

At 23:32 18.01.2005 -0800, you wrote:
>Dear Prof. Ledyard,
>Your response below seems a bit defensive, so perhaps this discussion is 
>hitting a sensitive nerve...The UW program of study has been around for 
>over 30 years, as a case in point, and it took approximately 3 decades to 
>produce or encourage and promote a single female scholar in the field. 
>That certainly is arguable against the Columbia case, rather than to 
>support the argument that women are somehow ready to outnumber men in the 
>field, as the culture at any given insitution also has a certain influence 
>in such outcomes. It also raises the question whether the fact that women 
>are so avidly pursuing advanced degrees creates some amount of hostility 
>at particular insitutions or within certain subcultures within those 
>institutions, as some female professors have asserted in speculating about 
>the effect of the fact that women currently outnumber men in attaining 
>undergraduate degrees at major institutions. This is not to accuse but 
>merely to pay attention to the pertinent facts of the matter and to 
>possible attitudinal differences from institution to institution as well 
>as within the field as a whole.
>Karen Palmer
>gkl1 at columbia.edu wrote:
>Mark Peterson and Charles Armstrong have well noted the number and
>importance of female historians in the Korean Studies field. I
>might add two more Columbia PhDs in Korean history: From the '70s
>there is Ellen Salem, whose important study of Koryo slavery is
>frequently cited, and whose work on the Later Three Kingdoms period
>is still very well worth reading. Ellen was a member of that
>unfortunate Korean studies generation, males and females alike, who
>got their PhDs and ran into the wall of the '70s funding crisis in
>academe, although many of them distinguished themselves in
>unanticipated careers. Ellen became a successful economic analyst;
>others in that cohort went into business, government and diplomacy.
>Mihwa Lee Stevenson earned the highest distinction for her 1999
>Columbia dissertation "Webs of Significance: Representation as
>Social Transformation in the Muraled Tombs of Koguryo," an
>important study; many of us are impatiently awaiting its
>publication. Mihwa is a professor of Korean history at the
>University of Kansas.
>The Columbia program presently has many female PhD candidates in
>Korean history, and in this it is no different than the programs at
>the other major Korean studies centers in the US. It would seem
>that, if there is a gender imbalance against females in the Korean
>history profession, it will soon disappear, as Charles has already
>suggested. Indeed, it is almost certain that it will turn into a
>gender imbalance against males.
>But frankly, I'm a little suspicious of the idea of gender
>imbalance as a criterion in analysing our field. Even the oldest
>among us males have matured in academic environments in which the
>women's movement has thrived, and not incidentally taught us all a
>lot (my own professorial career began in 1964). Like many of my
>male colleagues, I worked hard to bring women's perspectives into
>all my courses, and I know I am not unusual in that. I have a major
>piece of research in women's history which will be in print by the
>end of this year, and I would hope that women's studies specialists
>will see in it something that might qualify as "the creation of new
>knowledge regarding historical frameworks"; that indeed is my
>ambition. The whole idea is that we all, males and females, live
>together and work together; neither sex has a monopoly on the
>understanding of its own, and neither can afford to do without the
>critical perspective of the other. What we want to achieve is a
>total understanding of Korean history and society, one that does
>justice to all the men and women who constituted that society and
>made that history.
>All of us know of male academics who have been insensitive to the
>importance of women's perspectives, but in my time I have seen their
>numbers steadily dwindle. My years in a major East Asian Studies
>program include a lot of experience in recruiting female graduate
>students and in hiring and promoting female professors, and I am
>only one of thousands who have the same experience.
>In that light, it is discouraging to see suggestions of male
>manipulation against women in training and hiring future
>generations of Korean historians. The idea that male professors have
>"encouraged" more men than women to pursue Korean historical
>studies, much less have actually succeeded in such schemes, is at
>the very least disrespectful of women who, wanting to be
>historians, would welcome or accept such discouragement. I do admit
>to shamelessly having tried to encourage language and literature
>students of both sexes to consider history. One of my biggest
>successes in this was JaHyun Kim Haboush (Mark, note the correct
>spelling), who came into the Columbia program wanting to specialize
>in Korean literature. Our program gave degrees in "East Asian
>Languages and Cultures," so our program always had a high degree of
>flexibility in whether students would end up writing their
>dissertations in history, literature, linguistics,
>religion/philosophy, or whatever. When I saw that JaHyun was
>becoming more interested in history, I did indeed "encourage" her.
>She is certainly one of the major historians of Korea in the world
>today, but as a scholar she in no way abandoned literature, and it
>has been an important dimension of her historical work. The point
>is, she defined herself, both as a student and as a professional
>historian. She is presently the incumbent King Sejong Professor of
>Korean Studies.
>I very much doubt that any respectable female graduate student
>interested in history would accept any "encouragement" (much being
>"relegated") to go into literature if that was against her own
>choice. The suggestion that male professors try such schemes as a
>general rule is unworthy. The idea that they would actually succeed
>in them is ludicrous.
>Gari Ledyard
>Quoting karen palmer :
> > Dear Mark,
> >
> > While women are more broadly included in Korean studies in the
> > fields of language and literature, it is my experience as well
> > that women are directed more towards these fields and that male
> > students are more likely to be encouraged to study history, which
> > in turn is considered to be more definitive in creating a
> > historical framework of human experience. While women may be
> > "included" in such a sense, there seems to be no particular
> > rationale for the gender imbalance in the creation of new
> > knowledge regarding historical frameworks. Instead, there is
> > possible implication that women are "relegated" to the fields of
> > language and literature.
> >
> > Best,
> > Karen
> >
> > Mark Arlen Peterson wrote:
> > Greetings all,
> >
> > Concerning Ms. Palmers note:
> >
> > If we look at the question of gender balance in Korean Studies --
> > more broadly than Korean history -- it looks a little better,
> > well, .... in some ways. It's certainly more complex.
> >
> > First, in regard to history, Martina Deuchler has retired but is
> > still working and writing. The Korean history positions at
> > Harvard (Kim Sun Joo, as mentioned) and at UCLA and the
> > University of Utah are all held by UW female PhD. Harvard has
> > given PhD's in history to Susan Shin and Sherry McCullough as
> > well as Martina Deuchler. Hesung Koh has worked in history, but
> > I'm not sure what her PhD was in. Law? Legal history?
> > Anthropology? Pae Hyungil at UC Santa Barbara has a PhD in
> > history/archaeology from Harvard. At at Columbia, we must cite
> > ChaHyun Kim-Haboush as a major figure at a major institution.
> >
> > If we look at language teaching, the opposite imbalance is
> > obvious -- more females. At AATK meetings (American Assocation of
> > Teachers of Korean) there are very very few male teachers.
> > Linguistics PhD's go disproportionately to females, it appears,
> > with major positions at George Washington and UCLA held by women.
> >
> > Political Science is really lopsided on the male side. I think
> > there is only one practicing female PhD in political science.
> > Here there may be grounds for complaining, but maybe not in
> > history.
> >
> > Anthropology has more females, Laurel Kendall, Linda Lewis, and
> > if we include ethnomusicology, Hillary Finchum at ICC in San
> > Francisco, there are perhaps more females in this field than
> > males. ???
> >
> > Literature is fairly evenly balanced, isn't it?
> >
> > So, Ms. Palmer, there may be an imbalance in Korean history but
> > the wider field of Korean Studies is closer to the golden mean.
> > At least, that is this observer's cursory conclusion.....
> >
> > with best regards,
> > Mark Peterson
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: karen palmer
> > To: Korean Studies Discussion List
> > Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2005 11:53:16 -0800 (PST)
> > Subject: [KS] women ph.d.'s in korean history
> >
> > It appears that the field of Korean history in terms of academic
> > positions held and even in numbers of Ph.D.s granted is heavily
> > male-dominated. Wasn't Kim Sun Joo the first female Ph.D. to come
> > out of the University of Washington, and isn't that a bit of a
> > late start in encouraging female scholars in this area? In my
> > opinion, it's a loss to the overall quality and scope of academic
> > research in history when women's voices are left out. It would be
> > strange to assume there were no women capable of or interested in
> > a particular subfield of history while overall women have come to
> > outnumber men in Ph.D.s granted in humanities and social
> > sciences. Although it involves the study of several languages,
> > Korean history is not rocket science, and women do not generally
> > self-deselect in these areas.
> >
> > In contrast to the University of Washington, which academic
> > institution has shown a better track record in terms of
> > encouraging female scholars, and what are the numbers and ratios
> > involved?
> >
> > Karen Palmer
> > (prospective graduate school applicant in korean history)
> >
> > caprio wrote:
> > You should look at Kim Sun Joo's dissertation.
> > I do not have the title with me but she looked
> > at the 1812 rebellion and talks about discrimination.
> > It was completed in 2000 at the University of Washington.
> >
> > Good Luck,
> >
> > Mark Caprio
> > Rikkyo University
> >
> >
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Vladimir Tikhonov,
Department of East European and Oriental Studies,
Faculty of Arts,
University of Oslo,
P.b. 1030, Blindern, 0315, Oslo, Norway.
Fax: 47-22854140; Tel: 47-22857118
Personal web page: http://folk.uio.no/vladimit/
Electronic classrooms: East Asian/Korean Society and Politics:
                        East Asian/Korean Religion and Philosophy:

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