Organized Panel Session
This panel brings together scholars based in the US, South Korea, and Germany who work at the trans-disciplinary intersection of science studies, feminist studies, and queer studies. Putting these fields of study into dialogue, participants aim to produce new knowledge on South Korea (1948 to present) which, to date, has tended to focus on the disembodied results of collective development rather than on the contested processes of corporeal difference. A critical response to such research, a sustained focus on biomedical changes, gender and sexual norms, and diverse modes of identification allows us to examine the complex interplay between scientific interventions and embodied subjectivities as revealing facets of the country’s post-colonial, Cold War, and neo-liberal modernities. The papers cover a range of Korean subjects – for example, Cold War doctors and scientists as well as contemporary women and transgenders – who interacted with successive bio-scientific modalities (i.e., physiological research, gender confirmation surgery, social egg freezing, and plastic surgery) that, in different ways, allowed these understudied actors to study, asses, and modify their bodies or those of others. Moving beyond nation-centered narratives, we attend to regional and global circuits that connected South Korea(ns) to the broader world, tracing how indigenous and foreign forms of bodily knowledge were localized and/or marketed to various biomedical consumers. Rather than simply celebrate these transformative epistemologies and practices as indicative of personal and/or national progress, panelists reveal how biomedical interventions worked to limit already marginalized peoples’ access to wealth, independence, (in)visibility, and other forms of social power.