Dr Jieun Kim

Dr Jieun Kim


I am a socio-cultural anthropologist focusing on the study of social marginalisation in the context of contemporary Japan and South Korea. My research examines the daily power dynamics that define certain groups as “others” or lesser members and outcasts of society. I am particularly interested in the ways in which social inequalities are naturalised and contested based on perceptions of social and bodily differences.

I joined Leeds in 2018 as a Lecturer in Japanese Studies after a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Freie Universität Berlin. Prior to that, I received my BA and MA from the Seoul National University and PhD in Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and have spent time as a visiting researcher at Waseda University (2010-12) and Keio University (2023). 

Since joining Leeds, I have led a number of collaborative initiatives to stimulate critical dialogues around the social dimensions of bioeconomy, including: the Speculative Lunch, Body Parts and Fluids: Rethinking the Human Body in Bioeconomy (2019), the Sadler Seminar Series, Vital Circulations: Bodily Fluids in Bioeconomy (2019/20) and the White Rose Collaboration Project, “Vital Circulations: A framework for understanding social dynamics in and beyond a pandemic” (2021–2023). These events formed the basis of the university-wide BioBody Research Network, which brings together researchers working on the question of the human body in biomedicine and biotechnology from diverse disciplinary and regional perspectives. Currently, I serve as the Leeds liaison for the regional network of Science and Technology Studies scholars, STS in the Midlands and North (STSMN).

My research has been funded by multiple funding bodies, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the White Rose Consortium, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. 

I would be delighted to work with doctoral students and fellow researchers interested in social changes in East Asia and beyond, across the fields of anthropology, medical humanities, and Science and Technology Studies (STS). Topics of particular interest includes:
•    technologies and ethics of care
•    politics of life and death
•    urban poverty and social suffering
•    social movement and civil society
•    gender, ethnicity, citizenship and nationhood


  • LCS Director of International Activities (interim S2 2024/5)

Research interests

My current research, funded by the Wellcome Trust (2021-23) and the AHRC (2023-25), explores the politics and symbolism of blood in blood donation in Japan and South Korea. This project employs ethnographic, archival and social media research methods to examine how blood donation reconfigures social boundaries and identities in these two countries with a strong belief in mono-ethnic nationhood. As part of this project, I am also collaborating with external partners, including the Thackray Museum of Medicine and the Korea Leukemia Patients’ Organization

My previous research drew on nineteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in a former day labourers’ district (yoseba) in Yokohama to trace how local activists, the homeless, and residents struggled to turn the district into a vanguard of the ‘right to survival’ over the last three decades. This work has been published in a number of international journals, including the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institue, Asian Anthropology, and Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in Anthropology, University of Michigan
  • MA in Anthropology, University of Michigan
  • MA in Anthropology, Seoul National University
  • BA in Anthropology, Seoul National University

Professional memberships

  • Fellow of Royal Anthropological Institute

Research groups and institutes

  • Asia Pacific Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • East Asian Studies
  • Japanese
  • Politics
  • Intercultural Studies

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>