Research Programs: Fellowships

Period of Performance

7/1/2021 - 6/30/2022

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

“Afro-Korean” Encounters: The Literary Intersections of Black Liberation Struggles in the U.S. and Anticolonial Movements in Korea, 1910-1953

FAIN: FEL-273781-21

Jang Wook Huh
University of Washington (Seattle, WA 98195-1016)

Research and writing of a book on the interaction between Korean and African American authors from 1910 to 1953 on topics of discrimination, colonialism, and freedom.

My project examines the radical interactions between African Americans and Koreans in the twentieth century. Drawing on a diverse range of archives, including U.S. missionary documents, declassified government files, and military records, as well as literary and cultural texts, my scholarly monograph argues for political connections between Black liberation struggles in the United States and anticolonial movements in Korea that resisted Japanese colonization (1910-1945) and U.S. military intervention (1945-1953). Through readings of Black writers and activists, and of Korean writers and intellectuals, my work highlights literary experimentations concerned with U.S. racial discrimination and Asian colonial subjugation to challenge the Japanese and U.S. empires. By bridging African American and Korean studies, I show how people of color invoke narratives of human freedom beyond national borders through shared notions of dispossession.

Associated Products

"None Like Us": The Promises and Liabilities of Cross-Racial Politics (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: "None Like Us": The Promises and Liabilities of Cross-Racial Politics
Author: Jang Wook Huh
Abstract: In 1913, the renowned author Yi Kwangsu adapted two Japanese translations of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). Borrowing the language of the Japanese colonizer, Yi uses US slavery to help Koreans enhance their understanding of oppression and liberation. But while encouraging sympathy for the enslaved, Yi typifies African Americans as inferior victims to deliberately counteract Koreans’ own subaltern status. This paper examines the Korean reworking of US domestic fiction under Japanese rule in order to trace how American notions of the human migrated to Asia. Yi subtly contests the Japanese empire; however, his belief in civilization and enlightenment legitimates Western and Japanese domination by dehumanizing the black race and alienating the Asian race. Yi’s act of depicting blackness in sentimental terms has its promises and liabilities. Although it animates an emotional identification between African Americans and Koreans, it entails a self-othering by Koreans and their othering of the racial Other in the formation of colonial modernity.
Date: 10/30/2021
Conference Name: American Studies Association of Korea (ASAK) 55th International Conference

Langston Hughes in Colonial Korea (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Langston Hughes in Colonial Korea
Author: Jang Wook Huh
Abstract: This paper examines Korean translations of Langston Hughes's short fiction in the 1930s to trace Hughes's inspiration for the willful violation of social order. In the mid-1930s when Korea was under Japanese rule (1910-1945), Yi Jong-su introduced Hughes's leftist vision to a Korean audience by translating "Mother and Child" and "Cora Unashamed." The medium of the magazine facilitated this global dissemination of Hughes. The act of translating pieces from contemporaneous non-Japanese-language periodicals was Korean intellectuals' deliberate means to keep abreast of proletarian developments in other countries while redressing Korea’s reliance on the colonizer's cultural resources. By focusing on Hughes’s depictions of African American workers and their interracial relationships, Yi encouraged Korean readers to imagine living otherwise when adhering to the system of oppression and exploitation was the normative condition. Yi's subversive practice of translation expands Hughes’s radicalism as manifested in racial and sexual transgression.
Date: 07/01/2022