Each year, the University of Notre Dame features outstanding women scholars to celebrate UN International Women’s Day. The Liu Institute is proud that two of our faculty fellows are among those featured for 2022: Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, an associate professor of English, and Sharon Yoon, an assistant professor of Korean Studies.
On the pages of her novels, Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi creates female characters who insist on being themselves. That’s something the award-winning writer and Notre Dame faculty member knows quite a bit about.
Growing up in Iran—a country where laws restricted her mobility because of her gender — she loved marching by herself through a deep eucalyptus forest to go to the beach on the Caspian Sea.
“I have a very adventurous spirit,” said Van der Vliet Oloomi, an associate professor of English, who won the 2019 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction—the most prestigious annual literary prize in America—for her novel Call Me Zebra.
“I write female characters who are equally themselves. They insist on being who they are in the world.”
Sharon Yoon has produced a rich body of research that focuses on how race and identity politics function among marginalized communities, particularly those in Asia, and analyzes how people are able (or unable) to mobilize resources to advance their economic, social, and political goals.
“By observing daily interactions, ethnographers try to make sense of structural problems people face,” said Yoon, a faculty fellow in the Keough School’s Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies. “People discuss their problems as individual problems. Many of the South Korean entrepreneurs I met would point to their specific experiences, saying, ‘This is why I failed,’ but as an ethnographer, it is my job to shed light on how broader patterns in labor markets, migration policies and access to resources influence an individual’s ability to thrive economically, socially and politically. In Beijing, I started to see how the vast majority of South Korean migrants struggled to achieve upward mobility not because of a personal shortcoming, but structural barriers that placed them collectively at a disadvantage.”