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A Moral Economy of Curative Violence
March 31, 2014 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Gender and Women’s Studies, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2013-2014)
Is cure the end of disability? This presentation examines the transactional aspect of cure, imagined in a way involving power, resources, and losses. In this transaction, violence plays an important role in reshaping disability. The political dynamics of cure are clearly displayed in the film Address Unknown (Kim Gi Duk, 2001), set in a rural village near a U.S. Army base in South Korea in the 1970s. A girl with an eye impairment caused by a gunshot receives corrective surgery at the base with the help of a white American GI, agreeing to his demand for a sexual relationship as compensation. After the successful removal of her impairment, the GI repeatedly inflicts sexual and physical abuse on the girl. In order to escape his violence and her debt to him for the cure, the girl restores her disability by stabbing her eye with a knife. Kim focuses on the larger economic system of values in the village, which rests on status as a Korean War veteran, fluency in the English language, American citizenship, race, disability status, sexuality, military power, and status as a human as opposed to a nonhuman animal. Kim presents cure as an attempt of crossing from the disabled to the able-bodied, a process that reveals the multiplicity of the thresholds that divide the two within the contexts of racialized and gendered geopolitical marginalization and violence.
Eunjung Kim is a resident fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities and an assistant professor in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Kim’s research interests include historical and cultural factors that shape disabled women’s experiences in South Korea; the politics and ethics of cultural representations of disability, gender, and a/sexuality; and transnational disability studies theories. Kim is a recipient of the AAUW International Dissertation Fellowship, the Future of Minority Studies postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and the Vulnerability Studies postdoctoral fellowship at Emory University. Kim is a member of UW Disability Studies Initiative and affiliated with Centers for Visual Cultures and East Asian Studies.