Hwayeon Lee

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Colorado, Boulder, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10322

Approve Date

April 13, 2022

Project Title

Lee, Hwayeon (Colorado, Boulder, U. of) "Refusing Empire through Care: Anti-base dissent in Soseong-ri, South Korea"

South Korea has been a key site for US military presence in the Pacific since the mid 20th century. Despite the democratization of South Korea and the nominal end of the Cold War, the US maintains an imperial relationship with South Korea. This is evident in the continued expansion of US military sites, such as a strategic ‘lily pad’ created in the rural village of Soseong-ri in 2016. While the South Korean state sanctions this site, dissent at the local level remains. Despite lack of attention from the media and contrary to the narrative that this dissent community is backwards, hyper localized, and brainwashed by external forces, their practices of mutual aid and solidarity reveal a lifestyle that defies state conceptions of security. Framed as ‘human security’ as opposed to militarized security, local forms of ‘care’ inform new anthropological conceptions of political subjectivity, activism, and refusal of empire and its military security. How do these seemingly unremarkable practices reveal divestment from militarized life and expose the limits of imperial militarism? Through ethnographic research examining intimate forms of care as radical relationality, this research aims to expose the limits of political affect and expand conceptions of dissent.