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Accepted Paper:

Pursuing Peace in the South Korean Borderlands  
Eleana Kim (UC Irvine)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, ecological studies of the Korean DMZ region provide ethnographic basis for theorizing "biological peace," or, peace beyond geopolitics. I argue that biological peace impels a reorientation in anthropological theorizations of peace, toward cosmopolitical and more-than-human worldings.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines areas in the South Korean borderlands, along the Korean Demilitarized Zone, which has separated the two Koreas for nearly 70 years, since the end of the Korean War (1950-53). Based on ethnographic research with ecological scientists and citizen scientists who conduct fieldwork in heavily militarized areas near the DMZ, this paper analyzes how ecological studies of the flora and fauna of the DMZ region exemplify "biological peace," or, peace beyond geopolitics. Biological peace informs the sensibilities of South Koreans who are drawn to the rare ecology of the DMZ, which introduces a reorientation toward the division and Cold War politics. Hiro Miyazaki has called reorientation a "key operation of hope." In the case of the Korean DMZ, this hope does not lead to a hope for unification, but for a more expansive understanding of peace, one that can include and even center nonhuman life forms and the habitats that are crucial to their survival. I discuss how biological peace can likewise help to impel a reorientation in anthropological theorizations of peace, to include both the cosmopolitical turn of feminist STS and the more-than-human worldings of multispecies ethnography.

Panel P015
Salvaging Hope and Seeking Survival: Futurities in postwar borderlands and Broken Ecologies after wars
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -