Feminist Assemblages: Contemporary South Korean Feminist Activism and Communities
This dissertation situates the history of contemporary feminist activism with the growth of the anti-sexual violence movement in the late 1980s. In 1987, the Korean Women Association United helped establish a concrete women’s organizational presence in the socio-political landscape post-authoritarianism. I trace the anti-sexual violent movement to present day to question: 1) what is the relationship between online activism and offline activism? 2) how are social media tools (hashtags, crowdfunding, platforms) used among different feminist communities and what is their affective, emotional function? 3) how do feminists envision their politics and ideologies in relation to the South Korean nation and institutionalized activism? I utilize feminist ethnographic methodologies and interdisciplinary scholarship to argue that contemporary feminist activism is a response to an enduring history of misogyny and socioeconomic discrimination complicated by current issues, such as illegal spy cameras, digital sex crimes, and prosecution biases against victims of sexual violence. By casting a critical gaze on recent feminist movements, such as #MeToo (2018-2019) and Break the Corset (2015-present), this dissertation examines the ways in which contemporary South Korean feminists use social media tools (hashtags, crowdfunding) to create and define their own political communities. This project follows feminist movements from the late 1980s to present day, and argues that, by creating new grassroots communities and community networks, contemporary feminist activism requires a reconsideration of the ways in which we theorize social justice and political organizing in South Korea.