Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationHarvard U.
Grant numberGr. 9860
Approve DateMay 1, 2019
Project TitleIm, Yookyeong (Harvard U.) "Order and Emancipation: Judicial Activism in South Korean Queer Movements"
YOOKYEONG IM, then a graduate student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, received a grant in May 2019 to aid research on “Order and Emancipation: Judicial Activism in South Korean Queer Movement,” supervised by Dr. Nicholas Harkness. This research examines the history, modes, and effects of law as an increasingly central means of activism in the South Korean queer movement. The rise of legal—both legislative and judicial—advocacy in queer activism is in line with the broader societal trend in Korea and beyond, that law seemingly emerged as the most potent means of politics. The study is situated in a unique context where contesting desires for institutional protection and fluid emancipation coexist. Informed by ethnographic fieldwork meeting rooms, street protests, conferences, and courtrooms, the research has identified the dialectical relationship between queer legal advocacy and its countermovement in constituting the growing significance of the law in rights-claiming politics. It has also found that the construction of legal knowledge relies on the linguistic model and further examines the affinity between the language of law and certain theories of time. The research focuses on the situated theorization of legality and liberation to explore an anthropological question of who can drive change and how they do it.