Cultures of Bioscience in Postcolonial Korea, 1980–2006

Lunchtime Lectures
Wednesday, November 18, 2020
1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m.

Haesoo Park’s research situates the disgraced Korean veterinary scientist Hwang Woo Suk within a longer history of Korea’s changing cultural contexts of bioscience. Doing so shows that Korean biology materialized through the different cultural contexts that shaped the needs, desires, and bioscientific practices between 1980 and 2006. He argues for the existence of two different cultures of bioscience: first, as a source of labor and national development between the 1980s and 1990s; second, as a salvationary science between the 1990s and 2000. The 1980s were characterized by a bioscientific culture that emphasized science as a form of labor for national development and the “good life.” These competing needs between the Korean government and its people led to the emergence of a new Korean subject by the end of the 1980s: the middle-class Korean bioengineer. By the 1990s, continued financial decline activated the pain of Korea’s colonial history and created new fears of its return. Hwang and stem cell research emerged at the beginning of the 21st century as Korea’s salvation from neocolonialism and financial ruin.



Haesoo Park, outdoor photo

Haesoo Park

About the Speaker

Haesoo Park is assistant professor of science, technology, and society and faculty residential fellow at Singapore Management University, where he teaches courses on the history of biomedicine, global health, and biotechnology. Applying theoretical and methodological insights from science and technology studies and postcolonial feminism, his research investigates the entanglements of biosocial life, power, and science in the 20th and 21st century. His current book project explores the emergence and development of a biological field called epigenetics from the turn of the 20th century to the postgenomic age. Park’s latest research focuses on the intersection of twentieth-century biomedical research and postcolonial history in East and Southeast Asia. He received his PhD in the history of science and medicine from Yale University in 2019.


About the Series

Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done. This season, our speakers are exploring issues of gender, race, and colonialism in the history of the physical and biological sciences from the early modern period to the 21st century.