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Yejee Choi, MA Student, University of Turku

Social Suffering and Memory Movement on South Korea’s Sewol Ferry Disaster

I am a master’s degree student at the Centre for East Asian Studies, University of Turku in Finland. I am interested in the Asian anthropology, which is deeply influenced by my lifetime spent in China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. Particularly, my interest is on the understanding of social memories, movements, and suffering in contemporary South Korea. I did my Bachelor’s at Waseda University and produced a thesis on the analysis of Sewol Ferry Disaster occurred in 2014. My master’s thesis also deals with the same topic, but through a different framework. It is based on my ethnographic fieldwork at the Gwanghwamun Yellow Ribbon Workshop, which is established by personal funds of South Korean citizens to remember about the disaster. I aim to explain how this space and citizenry movement can tell about collective experiences on and responses to post-disaster suffering. Also, the impact of the disaster on everyday life and subjectivity will be examined via participant observation at the workshop. I hope my research provides an alternative perspective on making sense of the disaster – through social and personal arenas of experience.


Diogo Da Silva, MA Student, Lund University

Strategic Narratives in the Diaoyu/Senkaku Dispute

I am currently in the final semester of my Masters at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies in Lund University. My bachelor degree was Chinese-Portuguese Translation, and as such I spent two years studying in Portugal, two years studying in China (one year in Macau, one year in Beijing). After graduating, I spent three years working in China as a Portuguese teacher in the Hainan Foreign Language College of Professional Education, and during that period I took the chance to visit most of East and Southeast Asia. I then began my Masters in Asian Studies in Lund University, and I spent roughly equal time focusing on China and Japan. I chose the Japanese Studies course for my second semester (plus one month doing field research in Tokyo's Waseda University), and I spent my third semester in an exchange program in China's Xiamen University.  In my thesis, I am making use of the concept of "strategic narratives" (which in the context of International Relations can be shortly described as the kind of narratives state and non-state actors form and project to advance a specific goal or a series of general goals) and analyzing their application in Sino-Japanese relations, specifically in the time period between August and October of 2012, when the Senkaku/Diaoyu territorial dispute between China and Japan escalated with the Japanese government's decision to officially nationalize the islands. For that purpose, I am doing a qualitative content analysis of the articles that four major Chinese and Japanese newspapers wrote in 2012 in regards to that dispute, hoping that the results will contribute to a better understanding of the nature of strategic narratives (particularly the way they are deployed in times of international conflict) as well as Sino-Japanese relations.