Eleana Kim Lecture: Making Peace with Nature: Ecological Encounters Along the Korean DMZ


Location: 1050 Jenkins Nanovic Halls and Zoom (View on map )

Kim Book Cover


This talk discusses the ecological, cultural, and political transformations that have contributed to the DMZ’s resignification from a scar of fratricidal war to a green belt representing biodiversity and peace. Kim discusses how the unending Korean War and the waxing and waning of inter-Korean détente have conditioned a temporality in South Korea that she calls “the meantime of division.” The DMZ no longer represents a forbidden zone, but rather has become a new frontier of possibilities, largely related to its ecological renaissance. Consequently, areas near the border have become sites for contestations and encounters among various parties, including farmers, local environmentalists, urban activists and intellectuals, and more-than-human entities. She examines how the DMZ’s “nature” is produced as valuable—ecologically and economically—and how it is becoming newly political. In conclusion, Kim asks how a focus on the DMZ’s multispecies worlds may defamiliarize conventional discourses of national division, future unification, and peace.                                               


Eleana Kim is a cultural anthropologist and author of Making Peace with Nature: Ecological Encounters Along the DMZ (Duke UP, June 2022), and Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging (Duke UP, 2010), which won the James B. Palais Prize in Korean Studies from the Association of Asian Studies and the Social Science Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies, both in 2012. Her research and writing have been supported by the Korea Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, among others.  She is an associate professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and is the current President of the Society for Cultural Anthropology.

Kim’s lecture is part of the Liu Institute series Asian (Re)Visions of Nation, State, and Citizenship that invites scholars from multiple disciplines to examine how diverse populations in Asia are remaking discourses and practices of nation, state, and citizenship, with consequences for people in Asia and around the globe. Drawing on a range of approaches, invited speakers will challenge the universalizing models of politics and the nation-state while demonstrating the need to ensure analyses of global issues are derived from lived experiences across Asia. The series is organized by Liu Institute faculty fellows Kyle Jaros, associate professor of global affairs, Julia Kowalski, assistant professor of global affairs, and Sharon Yoon, assistant professor of Korean studies.

This is a hybrid event, held in person and through Zoom. Visitors to campus must wear masks indoors.

Zoom registration