- Education 1205
Speaker: Jerry Won Lee (English, UC Irvine)
Topic: "Unbanality and the Reinvention of Nation: the Semiotic Landscape of Global Korea"
Generously co-sponsored by the Language & Globalization Lecture Series of the Mellichamp Global Dynamics Initiative
Unbanality and the Reinvention of Nation: the Semiotic Landscape of Global Korea
Jerry Won Lee
This presentation emerges from on an ongoing study of global Korea based on field research in sites across Asia (South Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong), North America (United States, Canada, Mexico), Europe (London), and South America (Sao Paulo). By examining instances of the semiotic landscape (Jaworski & Thurlow) of various sites through which ideological ties to an originary “homeland” are sustained and reproduced, this presentation aims to understand how diaspora communities continually re-invent nationness beyond the nation-state. Examining the postnational Korean context through an engagement with the concepts of banal nationalism (Billig) and invented tradition (Hobsbawm), I direct us to the possibility that what makes “global” Korea is not the absence or lack of Koreanness but the singular conspicuousness, or unbanality, of Koreanness achieved through material reconfigurations of space in a variety of sites across Asia and North America. I argue that the reconfiguration of public space through semiotic resources reflects the ways in which diasporic modes of social belonging contradict and yet corroborate the aspirations of the nation-state in that they are simultaneously less but also more “national” than their territorial and ideological center.