About the talk:
Against the backdrop of U.S. wars of intervention in Asia, Cold War narratives of contagion, as a form of anticommunist psychological warfare, conflated “infectious” ideologies, on the one hand, and vulnerable social or medical conditions, on the other. This presentation examines how and why Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients and mixed-race children in Korea emerged as an ideological battleground of the Cold War. Through a comparative cultural studies analysis of post-1945 transpacific cultural works and community archives in South Korea and the United States, this talk traces how the construal of mixed-race “orphans” and Hansen’s disease patients as diseased and disabled was central to militarized U.S. campaigns that targeted them for construed rehabilitation. By focusing on the reconceptualization of disability, Yoo historicizes the U.S.’s strategic blurring of race and disability in the Cold War context.

About the speaker:
Ka-eul Yoo is a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Asian American Studies at UC Irvine. She received her Ph.D. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz in 2022. As an interdisciplinary global Asian studies scholar, her research concentrates on disability justice, public health policy, comparative Asian diasporas, U.S. empire and transpacific violence, and Cold War racism and ableism. She is also a longtime community organizer on the local and transnational level, most recently with the Cultures and Histories of Adoption Rights Lab and the Ending the Korean War Teaching Collective.


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