Urban Renewal Gone Abroad: The Transpacific Community of Planning Culture
My new research project traces the origin of South Korea’s urban renewal regime to the mid-1960s, when both Washington and Seoul came to regard urban space as a way to maintain an anti-communist regional order. This period is also crucial in that it provided legal and administrative foundations for South Korea’s city planning in decades that followed, establishing a series of precedents for the way South Korean urbanism would be pursued. This research project illuminates the transnational dimension of urban problems during the Cold War and examines the formation of a transpacific community of planning culture which shared the capitalist vision of the modern city through the language of urban renewal. The research asks why urban renewal gained such power and momentum in South Korea in the late 1960s, when it was already being attacked elsewhere by anti-renewal activists such as Jane Jacobs. I argue that urban renewal's symbolic language of creative destruction dovetailed well with the pathos and rationality of the postcolonial state's mission to “build" a nation during the Cold War years.
Governing the Body: Biopolitics, Hygiene, and Architectural Standards in Meiji Japan
The second project examines how the modern sense of hygiene came to shape an understanding of architectural standards in Meiji Japan (1868-1912), during which architecture came to be seen as an object of scientific inquiry, especially regarding its relationship to human bodies. I will primarily analyze newly emergent “modern” media through which architectural and medical knowledge circulated across the globe, which include treaty-port newspapers, architectural and public health journals, and medical reports. In exploring how modern technologies of “hygiene” (eisei 衛生) with regards to light, heating, ventilation, and water influenced discourses on architectural standards of domestic environments, I interrogate the role of medical science in the shaping of architectural language in Meiji Japan.
Forgotten Routes: The Afterlife of Chinese Shophouses in East Asia
The third research project tracks historical routes through which a building type known as “shophouse” was transferred by Chinese migrants to Japan and Korea in the late nineteenth century. Primarily based on official “hong” (行) directories produced and circulated among treaty ports in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, this research project excavates the routes through which building materials, technologies, types, and craftsmen traveled between ports in East Asia. This project further explores how this characteristically “Chinese” dwelling form, which once disappeared from view and now receives public attention, reveals the understudied mode of inter-Asian connection in the mobility of built form.
The Fragmented Community of Sentiment: Modern Korea Seen through Ruins
The fourth research project deals with ruined landscapes in Korea. Through analysis of architectural design competitions and preservation projects surrounding modern Korea’s traumatic events, from the Korean War to the Sewol Ferry disaster, this research project asks how things and places actively intervene in the intimate domain of people. Building on Arjun Appadurai's discussion of “a community of sentiment," a group to imagine and feel together through collective reading and pleasure, this research project suggests a reading of modern Korea as a fragmented community of competing sentiments—in which feelings and emotions unite and divide people who want to see, cry, bemoan, and hate collectively. In situating ruined landscapes and preservation efforts at the intersection of the political economy of memory and affective geographies of state violence, I delve further into how ruins as sites of remembrance and intervention pose the question of ethics arising with architectural intervention into ruins and, by extension, ruined lives of people.