Society for Cultural Anthropology
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
IMO is a book featuring conversations with three “US base town women” in Korea who prostituted for US soldiers. After being discriminated against in Korean society, such women are drawing attention as victims of state violence due to campaigns putting the state’s involvement in the process under the spotlight.
IMO offers an oral presentation that emphasizes the way questions are avoided, memories altered, and past experiences denied. The tension between the researcher and narrator, and their mutual judgment, is also important content. This approach is based on the problematization of the classical model of adding the researcher’s interpretation of quotations and reflexive research that overemphasizes and objectifies the interpreter’s position.
The ethnographer also notes differences among the women and uses different editing styles accordingly. Are these attempts designed to turn “US base town women” back into individuals in an argument that subaltern research should move toward writing individuals’ history based on their differences? However, turning the subalterns into individuals renders them invisible.
As such, how can we let “US base town women” emerge in history without confining them to this category? By letting different types of representation play different roles. Ethnography, as social science, can allow them to emerge as social beings by positioning them in a social structure that permits more detailed representation, although individual subjectivity may be slightly compromised. While playing different roles, these representations need to make their nature and position clear to prevent objectification. The methodologies used in IMO illustrate the need for the division.