Urban Aspirations in Seoul: Religion and Megacities in Comparative Studies

Excellent news! I just found out that a collaborative research project that I’m involved with, “Urban Aspirations in Seoul: Religion and Megacities in Comparative Studies,” has been awarded a 5-year US$1.25 million grant by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS). The project is spearheaded by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Germany, and conceived as part of a larger study of urban aspirations (co-directors: Peter van der Veer and Arjun Appadurai) that compares four Asian postcolonial megacities — Mumbai, Singapore, Shanghai, and now Seoul.

From what we’ve discussed in the process of developing this project proposal, it looks like the grant will fund research trips, collaborative meetings, conferences, and publications to foster ethnographic and comparative research organized around these three themes: 1) Urban geography of religion; 2) Urban life, spritual life; and 3) Multiple aspirations.

I’ll be in great company, for sure:

  • Peter VAN DER VEER (Max Planck Institute), a renowned anthropologist of religion and nationalism
  • Jin-heon JUNG (Max Planck Institute), cultural anthropologist of North Korean migration and South Korean Protestantism
  • Nicholas HARKNESS (Harvard University), linguistic anthropologist and ethnographer of Korean Christianity
  • SONG Do-young (Hanyang University), cultural anthropologist of the city, with expertise in North Africa, Islam, and cultural geography of Seoul
  • KIM Hyun Mee (Yonsei University), cultural anthropologist of gender and migration, marriage and religion
  • And me, the lone geographer with interests in cultural politics of religion, difference, and mobility

I’m incredibly honoured and excited to be part of this amazing international collaboration, and look forward to sharing more updates and developments here.