3501 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022 | 3:30PM - 5:00PM (PT) | FLYER | RSVP

From Chongno to It’aewŏn (via Ŭljiro): Homo-Spatiality and Gender Non-Conforming Wo/men in Authoritarian-Era Seoul - Talk by Todd Henry

Based on extensive interviews with gay men and transgender women, this lecture traces the changing spatiality of Seoul’s queer underground in “hetero-authoritarian” South Korea. Todd Henry, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, examines the vital role of second-run movie houses in providing anonymity for sexual encounters and how “salons” such as the Pagoda Theater, the city’s most famous salon, facilitated the emergence of other queer subcultures, including gender non-conforming “fairies” and white-oriented “potato queens.” The talk will also highlight the movement of fairies from downtown Chongno to It’aewŏn, the site of a large US military camp town and the home of several transgender bars by the early 1980s. This journey is characterized not only as a spatial move that offered fairies a gender-confirming salary in a sex-binary labor market, but also a self-empowering one by which they medically and legally transitioned into transwomen. 

This event is co-sponsored by the East Asian Studies Center, the Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

Speaker Bio: 

Todd A. Henry (Ph.D., UCLA, 2006; Associate Professor, UCSD, 2009-Present) is a specialist of modern Korea with a focus on the period of Japanese rule and its postcolonial afterlives. A social and cultural historian interested in global forces that (re)produce lived spaces, he also studies cross-border processes linking South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and the US in the creation of “Hot War” militarisms, the transpacific practice of medical sciences, and the embodied experiences of hetero-patriarchal capitalism. Dr. Henry’s first book, Assimilating Seoul (University of California Press, 2014; Korean translation, 2020), which won a 2020 Sejong Book Prize in History, Geography, and Tourism, addressed the violent but contested role of public spaces in colonial Korea. He has written several related articles on questions of place, race, and nation in colonizing and decolonizing movements on the peninsula (see "publications" tab for details). Currently, Dr. Henry is at work on two books (volume 1: 1950-1980; and volume 2: 1980-1995) and a co-produced documentary that center understudied, "queer" dimensions of authoritarian development in Cold War South Korea. 

Event Details

  • Hannah Wolstein
  • Au Chung

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