[KS] AAS Korea panels announcements

Hyung I. Pai hyungpai at eastasian.ucsb.edu
Sat Apr 1 14:17:33 EST 2006

Dear members,
I did not think my advertisement of the record number of Korea panels 
at the AAS
was going to start a debate on the lack of social scientists presentations in
the Korea field.
If you look at all the other area panels, you will notice that China, 
Japan, as
well as South-east Asia are also predominantly represented by literature ,
history and so-called "cultural studies " types. I maybe mistaken but I 
this has been the trend of the AAS since the mid- 1980s when I started 
going as
graduate student. For these fields, the AAS is also the central place to find
language teaching jobs as well beginning junior positions, and that is why
thousands of people show up.
In addition as Mike pointed out the proposed panels are in these fields 
as well
as the exec. committees from the president downwards have been either
historians or literature experts with the occasional anthropologist or
sociologist thrown in. The articles published in the Journal of Asian Studies
also has a similar distribution.
 From a non-political scientist angle, I think it is fantastic that we now have
younger scholars who are working on such a wide range of topics rather than
Cold war politics or the Nucleur issue. Don't political scientist have more
research money and conference venues than most humanities types who 
mostly have
only the AAS to give their papers?
I consider myself a social scientist being trained as an archaeologist and
I attend other conference venues in my field- such as the AAA (Association of
American Anthropologist), SAA ( Society of American Archaeologist) as well as
many prehistoric/historical societies in Korea and Japan. And I sm sure 
this is
the case for the other social scientist working in the Korea field. 
when I go to these venues in North America, I am unlikely to meet other
Koreanists and that is one of the main reasons why I try and attend the AAS as
often as I can to keep in touch with the old hands as well to meet the younger
students in the field. Forty panels no matter what the emphasis is a positive
sign that Korean studies is at least making a stong presence in the academic
world ( there are more than three times the number for China/Japan field)

Quoting "David C. Kang" <David.C.Kang at Dartmouth.EDU>:

> I'd like to add some thoughts to Aidan's very trenchant observation, 
> especially
> because I just this week had the same thought. I'm new to the CKS, so 
> I add them
> here merely to continue discussion about an important topic. I very 
> well could
> be off base, but here are my quick thoughts...
> Personally, I wouldn't have framed the answer in terms of modernism/post/etc.
> Being a political scientist, I've also been surprised by the dearth of social
> scientists at all levels working on Korea. So the first thing I would 
> say to any
> current or potential graduate students that are thinking of studying Korean
> politics, international relations, economics, or anything like that, is to go
> right ahead -- the field is surprisingly open, especially at the graduate
> student level.
> As to the over-representation of history and literature, etc. at AAS, 
> part of it
> is disciplinary, as Mike pointed out. Most political science types don't get
> rewarded for working in what is denigrated -- unfairly, in my opinion 
> -- as area
> studies. This could be a huge topic in itself, but I shall avoid it here.
> However, the cause seems to be more than that. There are relatively fewer
> students doing Ph.D.s in the social sciences, and I find this curious. Partly
> it's a result of the relatively greater numbers of Korean Studies faculty at
> Ph.D. institutions who focus on history, literature, and the like. 
> Having fewer
> social science faculty has the tendency to produce fewer graduate students in
> those fields.
> But even here I find that explanation partial at best -- after all, 
> students and
> the larger public have a very high interest in, and demand for, classes and
> research that focuses on Korean issues, from North Korean nuclear weapons to
> economic development and democratization. Indeed, I would even 
> surmise that the
> interest in Korean politics is proportionately higher than it is for 
> many other
> areas of the world, and in my experience, shows no signs of 
> diminishing. So why
> don't graduate students study this and apply for grants and present papers?
> There are some, to be sure -- but far fewer than I would expect given 
> the demand
> side, and far fewer in proportion than those Koreanists on the 
> "humanities and
> history" side.
> I hesitate to concluded too negatively, but my own feeling is that 
> this is not a
> good trend.
> Any opinions?
> David Kang

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