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Daniel Y. Kim

Mar 22, 2022

The Intimacies of Conflict

Cultural Memory and the Korean War

New York University Press 2020

In this episode I talk with Daniel Y. Kim, Associate Professor of English and American Studies at Brown University, about his 2020 book Intimacies of Conflict: Cultural Memory and the Korean War, published by New York University Press.

Though often considered “the forgotten war,” lost between the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War, the Korean War was, as Daniel Y. Kim argues, a watershed event that fundamentally reshaped both domestic conceptions of race and the interracial dimensions of the global empire that the United States would go on to establish. He uncovers a trail of cultural artefacts that speaks to the trauma experienced by civilians during the conflict but also evokes an expansive web of complicity in the suffering that they endured.

Taking up a range of American popular media from the 1950s, Kim offers a portrait of the Korean War as it looked to Americans while they were experiencing it in real time. Kim expands this archive to read a robust host of fiction from US writers like Susan Choi, Rolando Hinojosa, Toni Morrison, and Chang-rae Lee, and the Korean author Hwang Sok-yong. The multiple and ongoing historical trajectories presented in these works testify to the resurgent afterlife of this event in US cultural memory, and of its lasting impact on multiple racialized populations, both within the US and in Korea. The Intimacies of Conflict offers a robust, multifaceted, and multidisciplinary analysis of the pivotal—but often unacknowledged—consequences of the Korean War in both domestic and transnational histories of race.

Winner, 2020 Peter C Rollins Prize, given by the Northeast Popular & American Culture Association.

Adhy Kim is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Adhy Kim

Adhy Kim is a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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