Afro-Latinx-Queer-Korea-Asia in the Arts Symposium

Dana Davenport, Self Portrait, 2015, Courtesy of the Artist

The Art Department is hosting an Afro-Latinx-Queer-Korea-Asia in the Arts Symposium as part of a Cross-Ethno-Gender Korean/Asian Studies Initiative to highlight a more intersectional approach and to forefront Korean studies, which is often marginalized in such endeavors.

The initiative entails establishing an advisory board; soliciting papers/practices via open calls for papers; and a two-day symposium/roundtable discussion.

The symposium will focus on five themes:


Queer/LGBTQI Korea/Asia

Latinx Korea/Asia

A critical approach to Korean Hallyu and K-pop phenomena

Feminist art in Korea/Asia

While each of the fields featured in this symposium’s theme—African, Latinx, queer, feminist, Korean, and Asian studies—is still evolving, what may be noted is the lack of academic intersectionality among these underrepresented fields in art history and cultural studies. Indeed, much of the current decolonization discourse (narrative) is often in the context of the “non-Western” pitted against “Western” cultures. The proposed initiative builds upon and augments the sentiment of non-alignment of the Bandung Conference of 1955, wherein African and Asian countries met to discuss peace, economic development, and how to define and navigate their role during the Cold War period. The initiative goes further by moving away from the colonial legacy that foregrounds the center-periphery model via discriminate loaded binaries, such as developed versus underdeveloped countries.

The symposium and initiative seek to cultivate scholarship and cultural/artistic practices that emphasize the intricate web of networks of multidirectional reciprocity across ethnicity, cultures, nationality, gender, and sexual orientations on equal footing.

The initiative and symposium will offer an alternative antidote to the toxic and ethnically divided social and media rhetoric that has intensified in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The anti-Asian sentiments and violence were often depicted in mass media to criminalize other minorities in the United States, pitting one “minority” group against another. The cross-ethnic approach to Asian and Korean studies will illuminate and emphasize the interconnectedness and symbiotic relationships of these seemingly segregated groups of various ethnic, cultural, and gender groups. The current area studies in the humanities in the United States are divided along ethnic and cultural lines that may not fully correspond or cater to the interconnected experiences of individuals of mixed racial groups as well as gender-fluid people. For example, scholarships for Afro-Asian connections are rarely found in current Korean studies and African studies, while there are various groups of “Blasians” (Black Asians of mixed blood) and people who work and operate in both cultures. Where and how do we tell their stories? Having an established intersectional field of study will encourage scholarship and practices that focus on such perspectives.

While the symposium will be broadly based and draw upon scholars of various fields, it is our goal that Korean studies will figure prominently and break new ground in this symposium.

Based upon these metrics, it is of paramount importance to establish Asian, East Asian, and Korean studies programs at Brooklyn College and connect across CUNY, with an emphasis on the cross-ethnic-gender approaches. Korea presents a unique case for issues of mono-ethnic versus multi-ethnic, cross-cultural versus trans-cultural, pure-blooded versus interracial. By discussing the unique position of Korea on issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity, Brooklyn College students, staff, and faculty can reflect on American issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in a larger context of global geopolitics. The cultural influence of Korea in the genres of films, popular and classical music, and visual culture has been a focus of scholarly and popular attention in New York and beyond. This symposium is derived from the interest and demand of students requesting diverse perspectives within cultural studies. In greater detail, this initiative will augment a much-needed intersectional approach to Korean and Asian art within the Art Department, CUNY and beyond.

Symposium Schedule

Day 1: Saturday, April 22 via Zoom

1–1:05 p.m., Opening Remarks

1–1:15 p.m., Congratulatory Remarks by Mona Hadler, Chair, Art Department

1:15–1:30 p.m., Introduction Remarks on the symposium and panelists:

  • Moderator 1: Sooran Choi, Art History, Director of Cross-Ethic-Gender-Korean Studies Initiative, Art Department
  • Moderator 2: Michael Parks, Art History, Research Associate, CUNY Research Foundation

1:30–3:30 p.m., Panel 1: Afro-Korea/Asia in the Arts (five panelists, 15 minutes each)

  • Rojo Robles, Baruch College (CUNY): “Afro-Latinx-Asian Coalitions in Martin Sostre’s Bookstore”
  • Hye-Youn Choi, Seoul National University: “The Evolution of Asian and Diaspora Art Collectives Burgeoning in the Multicultural Era of the Late Twentieth Century and Proliferating Again During Trump’s Administration Amid Xenophobic Rhetoric”
  • Jang Wook Huh, University of Washington, “​​Moving Beyond Radical Orientalism: Opportunities and Challenges in Afro-Korean Encounters”
  • Jungah Kim, Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY): “Specters of Comfort Women: Biopolitical Colonial Warfare, Haunted Future, and Questions of Humanity”
  • Dana Davenport, Artist: “Dana’s Beauty Supply”
  • Q&A with all panelists

3:30–4 p.m., Break

4–6 p.m., Panel 2: Critical Approaches to K-Pop and Hallyu (five panelists, 15 minutes each)

  • Jinwon Kim, New York City College of Technology (CUNY): “Animated Minority: Black Characters and Legacies of Blackface in the Korean Entertainment Industry and Media”
  • Eduardo Luciano Tadeo Hernández and Luis Enrique Garcia, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco and El Colegio de la Frontera Norte: “K-Pop and the Diplomacy of Silence: When the Creation of Soft Power Hides the Structural Violence”
  • Claire Chun and Jaclyn Zhou, University of California, Berkeley: “K-Pop Ecologies”
  • Kyung Kim, University of California, Irvine: “Evaluating Korea’s Miguik-ification and Its Ambiguity in K-Pop”
  • Hannah Kim Sions, James Madison University: “K-Pop and the Complications of Western Influences on Korean Media Culture”
  • Q&A with all panelists

Day 2: Sunday, April 23, via Zoom

1–1:10 p.m., Opening Remarks

1:10–3:10 p.m., Panel 3: Feminist Art in Korea/Asia (five panelists, 15 minutes each)

  • Hyunji Kwon, University of South Carolina: “The Paintings of Korean Comfort Woman Duk-kyung Kang: Postcolonial and Decolonial Aesthetics for Colonized Bodies”
  • Areum Jeong, Robert Morris University: “Performing Memory and Testimony After a National Tragedy: The Sewol Mothers in South Korean Theater and Performance”
  • Michael Hurt, Korea National University of the Arts: “Encountering Fashion, ‘Bukae,’ and Feminist Art Through Photo-Sartorial Elicitation on Korean Instagram”
  • Midori Yamamura, Kingsborough Community College (CUNY): “Can Feminist Art in Asia Be Interpreted From a Truly Feminist Perspective? Speaking About Censorships in Feminist Scholarship”
  • Kyunghee Pyun, Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY): “Making Feminist Art in Korea: Women’s Labor Movements and Contemporary Art”
  • Q&A with all panelists

3:10–3:40 p.m., Break

3:40–5:40 p.m., Panel 4: Queer/LGBTQI Korea/Asia (five panelists, 15 minutes each)

  • Todd Henry, University of California, San Diego: “(Re)Fashioning the World: André Kim as Global Icon and Cultural Ambassador”
  • Kenneth Wong See Huat, People Ideas Culture: “Defining Parameters in Asian Queer Art: Queer Kinship in Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan”
  • Hyojin Kim, Seoul National University: “Rethinking the Meaning of Boys Love in an Era of Feminism: Online Discourse on ‘Leaving BL’ in Late-2010s Korea”
  • Jan Christian Bernabe and Laura Kina, DePaul University and FLXST Contemporary Gallery: “Still Queer: Writing, Curating, and Queering Asian American Art”
  • Tom Baudinette, Macquarie University: “K-Pop Fandom’s Role in Shaping Knowledge of Gender and Sexuality Among LGBTQ+ ‘Inter-Fans’ in the Anglophone Asia-Pacific”
  • Q&A with all panelists

5:40–6 p.m., Discussions and Closing Remarks

Brooklyn. All in.