Yongwoo Lee is a senior researcher at the Institute of Asian Cultural Development of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Republic of Korea. He received his Ph.D. from the department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University in 2010 and an M.A. in Media and Cultural Studies from Seoul National University. He was a visiting assistant professor in Cornell University’s East Asia Program (2012-2013), serving before that as a Mellon-Postdoctoral Teaching and Research Fellow in Cornell's Society for the Humanities (2010-2012) and research fellow in the Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies at the University of Tokyo (2006-2007). His primary research and teaching interests focus on media and cultural studies, popular culture in Asia, film theory, critical musicology of East Asia, intellectual history of wartime Japan and postwar Korea, and post/colonial historiography.
At Leiden he is currently revising his book manuscript, Embedded Voices in Between Empires: The Cultural Formation of Korean Popular Music in Modern Times, which explores the historical trajectory of colonial mentalities and the genealogy of cultural modernities and Americanization in South Korea by recontextualizing popular music as a narrative of collective memories and mass trauma.
His new project, entitled "Postwar Mediascape and the Acoustic Modernities in East Asia," aims to explore multifarious ways in which colonialism, Americanism, and postwar fascism shape modern Korean society and culture and how Cold War cultural forms and their representations were shaped and invented by various hegemonies--dictatorial governance, the implicit Japanese legacy, and American rule during the Cold War era chief among them--by examining South Korean popular songs and propaganda films in the 1960s and 70s.
Along with an abiding interest in the legacies of Japanese colonialism, Cold War fascism, Americanism, and popular imagination and its cultural representation in creolized postwar Korean soundscapes, this project is concerned with the role of popular music and films, as well as postwar mediascapes and their relationship with socio-historical trajectories in South Korean popular cultural scenes.
This research project explores not only the epistemic continuity of colonial legacies through Korean popular songs, propaganda films, and their ambivalent formation of postcolonial collective memory, but also elucidates the role of popular song and films as media and their nationalist framing of the past, which at once obscures and foregrounds the meaning of sovereignty and coloniality in shaping historico-cultural consciousness, and the rewritten notions of nation-state, modern subjectivity, and anti-Communism through othering of North Koreans in various cultural representations during the Cold War era.