Though the state-centric approach was traditionally dominant in the field of geopolitics, recently concerns have been raised about restructuring geopolitical practices and discourses at various scales. In particular, urban space has been a central locus where diverse challenges that the world faces are sharply manifested, from environmental issues to terrorism. The city also embodies complicated relationships among diverse actors facing imminent challenges. As such, the Post-Cold War Cities of Peace team draws on a post-territorial approach that involves an epistemological transition from territorial statism to relational urbanism. Taking a post-territorial perspective as our conceptual lens, we seek alternatives to overcome territorial disputes, Cold War division, and confrontation imposed by the logics of territory and security statism, with the goal of building a system of peace in East Asia based on the relationality of the city.
Research Themes and Cases
Subaltern and Feminist Geopolitics
Our research aims to analyze the transformations of past and present military base cities such as Paju, Dongducheon, and Uijeongbu, brought on by the US military base transfer to Pyeongtaek. The lives of subaltern subjects, namely, females in military prostitution, and war refugees, are identified as key informants for our analysis. We use mixed qualitative methodologies including oral history.
Cold War and Urban Geopolitics in East Asia
Our team departs from Western-centric urban geopolitics debates (terror and counter-terror) and conducts East Asian geopolitical research, focusing on how the Cold War and Post-Cold War politics intersect in the military base cities across East Asia. Based on critical reviews of Western urban geopolitical discourses, we propose to theorize East Asian urban geopolitics through empirical findings.
On the Peace City
The research purpose of this team lies in conducting discourse analysis on the “peace city” expressed through peace city policies. We also invite critical discussions on specific policies, discourse conflicts, and peace discourses that are used as regional development discourses. Key research sites extend from the domestic cases of Incheon and Jeju to East Asian cities including Hiroshima.
The Geopolitics of Border Cities on the Korean Peninsula
Our team plans to undertake field and archival research to identify key research topics related to security and the development of border cities, including in Gyeonggi and Gangwon Provinces, as well as in island areas (possibly including North Korea-China border areas).
The Geopolitics of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex
Based on the outcomes of the Gaeseong Industrial Complex research project led by Dr. Paek, we plan to publish an academic book on the Complex. We aim to produce original research for the book by drawing on the concepts of gender and territoriality.