[KS] AAS Korea panels announcements_China and North Korea

Ruediger Frank rfrank at koreanstudies.de
Mon Apr 3 02:19:07 EDT 2006

Dear all,

I think David has a point here. To me, the answer seems rather simple: Those who work on 
Korea in the fields of, say, economics often are less VISIBLE in the Korean Studies 
community, for very practical reasons. We all know that in order to survive in academia, 
you need reputation - among those who write references or sit on committees. If you apply 
for a job in economics related to Korea, chances are good that the committee is full of 
economists, and slim that there is a Korea guy in there; a Japan or China specialist often 
is the best you can hope for. If they check your list of publications, the Asia Journal & 
Co. are fine, but they will inevitably ask: where are your articles in the major economics 
journals? (you can substitute "economics" by "political science", should work fine, too)

I guess that is the "problem"; the people are out there, we - the ones who identify 
themselves as area specialists - often simply don't see them. In Germany, we recently had 
an initiative bringing these "hidden treasures" together at a meeting in Bonn, organized 
by the German Institute for Asian Studies (Hamburg). The established network works so-so, 
but this is certainly something we will try to develop further in the future.

Having said that, please allow me some self-advertisement (I hope that's an English word): 
SESSION 92. 3:15 p.m.–5:15 p.m., Nob Hill C – Lower B2 Level, a so-called "border-crossing 
panel" on FAMINE UNDER STATE SOCIALISM. Basically organized by a bunch of Vienna people, 
covering China and North Korea. On the latter, we will have the controversial Jasper 
Becker, and myself. Could be interesting, in particular if I consider the reactions my 
testimony before the European parliament a couple of days ago triggered.

Hope to see many of you in rainy (?) California,

Ruediger Frank

David C. Kang wrote:
> 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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