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Reflecting on the specificity of Korean humanistic knowledge, the future of humanity, and posthuman conditions

The EIH is leading the theorization and globalization of Trans-Humanities with its focus on posthumanism and trans-boundary knowledge.

The EIH has worked on the Humanities Korea (HK) Project under the heading “Trans-Humanities: Reimagining and Reconstructing the Human Sciences” supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea since 2007. In the first phase of the project, we conducted research on transcultural experiences to ascertain the potential of Trans-Humanities. In the second phase, we sought to systemize the methodologies for studying transcultural phenomena and glocal knowledge. Currently, in the third phase of the HK Project, our research is focused on posthumanism and the trans-boundary knowledge with the aim of devising a new paradigm for humanities research on human beings and knowledge.

Phase 01: Examining Paradigms of Humanities Research and Developing Trans-Humanities Knowledge
- to investigate transcultural experiences and construct a model for Trans-Humanities
- to research glocality, gender, and multimedia

Phase 02: Making Trans-Humanities Systematic and Practical
- to systemize the methodologies of Trans-Humanities
- to research cultural exchanges and hybridity, posthumanism and the human, and trans-boundary imagination and restructuring of humanistic knowledge

Phase 03: New Possibilities of the Korean Humanities: EIH as a Global Hub for Trans-Humanities
- to produce new humanistic knowledge
- to create a new paradigm for understanding human beings and knowledge in the 21st century
Research Team 1: Posthumanism
Research Team 2: Trans-Boundary Knowledge

1st STAGE(2007-2009)

The "Trans-boundary Humanities" research of EIH aims to examine the many instances of "transcending" and "traversing" taking place around the world in this era of globalization with a humanities-based perspective, and focusing on the vast potential that 'trans'-phenomena bear, attempts to open a new horizon of humanities that actively responds to changes of our contemporary society and culture.

The 3 years of the first stage of the Trans-Humanities Research, which was conceived as a 10-year project is as the following:
First Year: To examine trans-boundary cultural phenomena and find a new possibility for humanities (from Nov. 2007 to Oct. 2008)
Second Year: To lead an in-depth study of trans-boundary cultural phenomena as a new humanities text (from Nov. 2008 to Oct. 2009)
Third Year: To establish a model of trans-boundary humanities studies that can be applied to society (from Nov. 2009 to Oct. 2010)

Current research trends centered around such themes are the following three:


First, defining the concept of boundary/trans-boundary studies, and attempting a theoretical approach.

This research is significant in that it attempts to initially define the basic concepts needed in examining the socio-cultural phenomena of today that concerns "boundaries," which is the founding principle to The Trans-Humanities agenda.

Also, boundary and trans-boundary phenomena of culture that occur in our current society are looked into in order to present a theoretical foundation for the study of concepts such as "multiculturalism," "interculturalism," and "transculturalism," terms which derive from a disparate understanding of culture.

Second, critically examining the various boundaries constituting the World, Human, and Media and proposing a corresponding discourse
This research focuses on the problem of "ethnicity/nationality," "man/woman," "majority/minority" and as the research progressed on each's generative structure and socio-cultural manifestation, it developed into an in-depth theme.
Research on the boundaries of ethnicity/nationality discusses how the power of locality has become a national ideology which influences many people through the keyword of "ethnicity." Research on the boundaries of man/woman aims to implement a gender paradigm which critically examines the boundaries between the subject and the other, and this perspective offers a basis for research on majority/minority boundaries.  
Third, presenting a new humanities research methodology based on trans-boundary phenomena analysis.
This study takes issue with the trans-boundary socio-cultural phenomena, that is the movement of labor and 'migratory' phenomena crossing boundaries of ethnicity/nationality and reveals that gender order is being reflected and re-produced in the realistic context of globalization.
It also focuses on trans-boundary phenomena in representation or the media.
Analysis of media based on new technology which transcend traditional representation modes and research of crossing boundaries between media are being proceeded.  
Glocality : Glocality as a Humanities Text
The Division of Glocality's aims are to observe and analyze the trans-boundary cultural changes of globalization's diversity, hybridity, and dynamism in relation to 'locality' and also develop a humanities paradigm of cultural communication which can overcome and heal the conflict and clash between the global and local.
The research objective from 2008 was to re-examine the overall phenomena of 'boundaries and trans-boundaries of culture' through the humanities approach.

Specific research objectives are to analyze and criticize the various perspectives toward world order of the globalized age, existing typological categorizations, and the cultural context of certain discourses by dealing with the concept of cultural boundary, humanities‘ inquiry into the nation/state, trans-ethical discourse, the issue of cultural translation represented by the processes of interaction, conflict, and exchange between cultures, etc.
Also, an international conference was held under the title 'Globalization and Cultural Borders: a Critical Re-examining of Trans-boundary Cultural Change' where issues concerning the spread of globalization/capitalism and its ramifications toward the Korean society could be re-examined with renowned international scholars.
This was a chance not only to provide an academic arena for establishing trans-boundary humanities but also to provide the foundation for spreading trans-boundary humanities to society.

The Division's 2009 research plan is, in continuance with that of 2008, to study the trans-boundary 'glocality' that can be found in humanities texts.
Ideas concerning nationalism and the division between nation/country, which are still significant in today's postcolonial and transnational condition, will be looked into, as well as themes related to diaspora and cultural boundaries in the globalized world, to the tensions between the center and the periphery, to the identity and/or multi-layer of local culture, and to the trans-boundary relation between man and the ecosystem in contemporary times.
As the changes in the ecological environment due to the spread of globalization have risen as a global issue, EIH reflects through humanities and engages in interdisciplinary study on the boundaries between nature and humankind.
Particularly, the relevance of anthropocentrism and the ecological crisis and the reciprocality between human/nature, history/nature, the earth/the universe, and life/ matter are being critically examined. 
Gender : Gender (Un)consciousness and analysis of cultural texts
The Division of Gender set forth an incremental yearly plan concerning its main research topic, which is to systematize and pragmatize "co-existent" humanities through the introduction of a trans-boundary gender paradigm.
The objective for the first phase entitled, "Establishing a Trans-Humanities Research Model through the Introduction of a Gender Paradigm" has been carried out through 2008 and 2009.

In 2008, the focus was placed on setting up the foundation for upcoming research that would be done by the Division of Gender.
Particularly, the division studied ways in which the power dynamics between the center and the periphery could be critiqued with an analytical apparatus based on gender order.
The results can be summarized as follows: first, research on alterity and inter-culturality, through the exploration of the history between subjects who participate in humanities knowledge production and those who are excluded, and more specifically, probing into the cultural/social relations of migrant women or taking a historical, socio-linguistic approach to gender relations from the Chosun period to the modern era; second, genealogical research on how gender is constituted through the study of the reproduction of gender identity, specifically focusing on analyzing the manifestations of femininity and masculinity; and third, studies concerning a gender-based perspective towards "nature," and the possibilities of gender as an arena for cultural discourse.

The overall research theme for 2009 was "Gender (Un)Consciousness and the Analysis of Cultural Texts," which aimed to analyze the multi-level intersection of cultural power that occur (un)consciously, and the performativity that minorities possess.
Bringing together the various academic interests of the division, an international conference was held discussing the 'other' and alterity and it provided an opportunity to introspect on gender consciousness and the other as a cultural text.

The division also produced research results on areas such as everyday culture including that of the male and of the female, cultural power, and cultural hybridity, so that the accumulated end results could build a foundation for a trans-humanities gender model for the third year. 
Multimedia : Field Analysis of High-tech Multimedia Culture
Under the objective "Research of the Multimedia Diversification and Cultural Transformation," the Division of Multimedia's first year action plan (Nov. 2007-Oct. 2008) examined new media environments and its subsequent reorganizations in the multimedia topography in an effort to establish a theoretical foundation for a 'Humanities of Convergence'.
Sub-themes such as: "An Analysis of Relationships between Developing Science Technology and Changes in Media," "Prospects of Trans-textual Culture," "Development of the Media and the Reorganization of Art," and "Changes of Human Values in the Development of Media Technology" were initiated.
In addition, much interdisciplinary output that traverses the fields of philosophy, philo-technology, arts, films, cartoons, photographs, literature, and advertisements, etc. was seen.

Through research focusing on issues such as "text culture and image culture," "the relationship between the image and the text," "media transference in the field of cultural arts and the movement of cultural areas," "understanding the French literary theorist’s, Gerard Genette, idea of the 'palimpsest' as an intermedial concept," etc., the members of the Division of Multimedia examined the phenomenon of media transition and convergence, which is a key aspect of trans-boundary culture.
Theories concerning intermediality, image/text analysis, and media aesthetics were able to be further developed.
The first research year marked an attempt to map the topology of the medium culture, while the second year's goal was to take a more active approach and study the actual areas in which new media culture is taking place.
Key activities include weekly seminars among division members, colloquia with invited experts, and distinguished scholars' lectures which all broadened research possibilities.

In the second research period (Nov. 2008 - Oct. 2009), under the project title "A Field Analysis of High-Tech Multimedia Culture", the division's focus lay on setting a course for a "Humanities of Convergence" by analyzing the current trends of the high-technology multimedia culture.
Sub-projects that were carried out include, "A Study of Inter-medium Trans-boundary Phenomena Taking Place in Cultural Arts," "Analysis of Human's Self-portrait in Multimedia Cultural Contents," and "A Critical Examination of the New Boundaries Created by Trans-boundary Studies" etc.
In May, 2009, an international conference entitled "Interface from a Humanistic Perspective -- Connection, Creation, and Communication" was held.
By setting forth "interface," as an important keyword in the cultural field of multimedia, the conference attempted to extend the interface discourse to new prospects from the previously mechanistic/technical centered discussions.
Discussions that transcended not only scholarly disciplines, but also the boundaries between academia and daily life were proceded.

2nd STAGE(2009-2013)

Objective : The study of cultural hybridty in cultural negotiation processes and the search for humanities' values for coexistence

Thanks to the development of digital media, a global network has been formed and the various culture of the late modern period is being spread.
What is more, local cultures with disparate language and culture systems intersect and co-exist, transcending time and place.
Complete cultural conversion in all areas of society is taking place and cultural hybridity is noticeably emergent in the intersections and boundaries between culture and culture. 

Research on cultural hybridity probes about the performative subjectivity that is manifested in the process of cultural negotiation to establish a society of mutual respect and open universality and aims to examine the humanities values necessary for pursuing co-existance. 
'Hybrid time/space and cultural identity', 'glocal cultural environment and gender dynamics', 'cultural translation and the performative subject', 'trans-cultural experience and diaspora' have been selected as key sub-topics. 
① Modern cultural experience and the reconstruction of identity
- Necessity of study: We need to correctly perceive the identity of culture/humanities while Korea has been experiencing modernity, and the process of deconstructing and reconstructing this identity is necessary in constructing the identity of 'new', Korean, and trans-boundary humanities.

- Research Content: As the 'beginning' of modernity in Korea and its experiences are centrally related with that of the Chinese and the Japanese, the research aims to closely examine modernity in Korea through a comparative historical study, especially, it will take a close look at the modern culture introduced through Japan.
Also, internally, it will examine the points where Korean traditional culture meets the modern. 
② Trans-boundary literature
‘Trans-boundary literature and humanities' imagination’ points out the problems with European-centered or Western literary studies and education and aims to bring a new paradigm to 21st century literary studies and cultural education.
Based on preceding research results such as comparative literary studies, trans-national literature, cultural hybridity, post-colonialism, it will try to establish a theoretical foundation in order to examine the position of literature in the trans-national/multi-cultural environment and study the poetics and canon texts of global trans-boundary literature. 
③ Study of cultural hybridity and the performativity of the acting subject
- Taking globalization and gender as parameters, this cell research will study upon the aspects of the performative subject's active intervention in processes of cultural hybridity, the process of conflict and competition between two cultures, the dynamics between two cultures and the results of cultural translation.
It aims to measure the possibility of producing a hybrid culture at a new dimension, going beyond just phenomenologically tracing the hybrid culture.
In the first year, it established the analytical research methodology through focused studies on cultural hybridity and performativity/behavior subjectivity theories. 

Objective : study of new perspectives and identity issues surrounding the human, transcending modern humanism

The reason-centered modern view of the human based on the dichotomy of the mental and physical lost its standing as the conceptual frame to understand the human after various criticism on its validity.
Moreover, contemporary humankind are faced with the emergence of various hybrid culture through migration and diaspora, the extension of the human body and mind due to developments in science and technology, destablization of the idea of time and space due to digital networking, appearance of a bodyless subject, and the emergence of various gender identity and other gender issues related with the aforementioned phenomena.
These trans-boundary cultural phenomena which are related to the traditional boundaries of 'human' concepts necessitates a re-examining of the basic categories that construct human understanding.

To correctly understand and define the hybrid, fluid, and multi-layered human identity that can be observed in these phenomena, a new conceptual framework transcending modern humanism is needed and we dub this as 'post-humanism'.
We set the new perspective of posthumanism through the link of physicality, the hybrid subject, sense and perception, constructive identity, and trace the identity of the individual (ego) and groups, the essence of humanity and the meaning of life, the status of the human in the natural world, and the various related ethical and political issues.

④ Reproduction of Posthuman and Cyborg Ontology Theory
- Aim for fusion studies approaching the various questions that are produced at the boundaries of humanities and natural sciences in the perspective of humanities
- Investigate the posthuman aspects in the reproductive media of SF literature, film, and art, etc as the products of trans-boundary cultural experience in which the human and technical media inter-penetrate, inter-sublate, and become fused and evaluate, through this, the new paradigm of 'posthuman'.
- Trace the transformation of human nature and life patterns which implicate the 'improvement' of the human or the emergence of the 'posthuman' through scientific technology and study related philosophical and ethical issues.
- Synthesize issues of 'interface' and 'convergence' which were the first stage agenda of EIH and approach the issue of "the human identity newly defined in the technology age', the core of the second stage agenda of 'posthumanism', in the perspective of the human and machine fused existence, cyborg ontology 
⑤ Homo Sentiens : the Co-evolution of the Media and the Senses
- Technology and media which were considered as human tools have now penetrated deeply into the human life and do not only coexist with human life but transform its patterns. Moreover, the perception and senses extended by technology is also changing the domains of the human mentality. The present cell studies on how the new media, adorned with digital technology, has changed and will be changing the human senses, perception, and sensibility and how related images exist and undergo transformation in various perspectives and areas. The characteristics of the digital world in which the division between the body and mind, virtual and reality, material and non-material become ambiguous and where variety, hybridity, interrelationship, seamlessness are emphasized, necessitate a new understanding of the human as a matter of course. In answer to this, the present cell has set the new understanding of the human as the main purpose of research while studying upon various keywords of the human and media, sensibility and image, and the digital and senses. Cell members’ specific research areas and direction are as follows: "image ontology' which studies upon the image and sensibility in the digital age through the esthetic perspective, "moist media and wet technology within contemporary art" which examines Bioart, etc. in the perspective of art history, "digital sensual theory studies" examined through media theories, "technology and sensibility" examined through the fusion of technology and literature, etc. 

Objective : Study of the identity of new humanities knowledge reorganized by contact and intersection with knowledge

The concept or system of knowledge is not fixed but transforms or is reconstructed through change in the cultural environment of each society or cultural contact and intersection.
In this sense, the Korean humanities of the early 20th century when modern studies were being introduced or the humanities knowledge discussed in the 21st century digital age are main themes to discuss in that new knowledge has emerged through intersection and contact between cultures.
In addition, to discuss the identity of 'trans-boundary humanities' which goes beyond modern concepts of humanities, research of contemporary changes should be proceeded with that of early modern period when new humanities‘ knowledge was being produced.

In the third phase, by researching on the identity of trans-boundary humanities knowledge putting weight on the dimension of humanities knowledge, we hope to contribute to the systemizing of trans-boundary humanities.
Setting the introduction of modern literature, the reconstruction of Korean humanities, the re-organization of the field of humanities knowledge in the digital age, the new humanities knowledge and 'trans-boundary humanities' as sub-topics, the theorizing of a new humanities knowledge will be possible.
Such research will be of a new humanities' paradigm which brings communication to and unites different academic divisions, and transcends the boundaries between different disciplines, between academics and practice, and between the academics and life.

⑦ Inter-cultural comparative literary studies
- Out of the trans-boundary humanities research team's first phase research results, it is necessary to deepen and extend the 'trans-boundary' research of theme dimension such as the 'diaspora' in the global age or 'trans-boundary cultural experience' at the dimension of a more humanities' introspection and interdisciplinary approach.

- Focusing on the fact that the meaning of 'trans-" has an emphasis on 'dynamic interaction' and 'inter-relationship', in humanities study, especially for the introspection of Korean humanities' formational stage, its current topology, and future vision, it is preferable to perceive Korean humanities within the international network, in a perspective differentiated from preceding methodologies and views, rather than perceiving it as particular phenomena within the geographical boundary of 'Korean' humanities.

- For this objective, we focus on the issue of communication/translation and the inter-cultural relationship between knowledge/ literature within the reciprocal relationship between cultures.  
⑧ Comparative and translation studies of East-Asia modern-contemporary literature and culture
1) Study of trans-boundary knowledge formation based on the dynamic process of knowledge formation: we examine the formation process and characteristics of early 20th century in light of creating a new trans-boundary knowledge based on the critique and reflection of modern knowledge systems.

2) Study of the creative aspects of modern knowledge reception and production through 'translative' and 'comparative' methodology: according to the modern diffusion model which contends that knowledge spreads from the west to the non-western societies, Korean modern knowledge formation can only be evaluated as one of imitation and lack.
The creative aspects of Korean modern knowledge can only be brought to light when the evaluating standards for knowledge that is received and newly formed does not resemble the original linguistic culture but newly produced.

3) The East Asian characteristic of knowledge formational process or knowledge identity, contrasting to that of the West: through the studying the process of three East Asian countries' ( Korea, Japan, and China) translating the same text, the aspects of translation, etc., we examine the characteristics of the three countries' knowledge systems and based on this, the East Asian knowledge system and characteristics contrasting to that of the West.

4) Gender and translation studies: we study what power the gender structure which moves modernity has on not only female translators, but translation choices for modern knowledge formation, translation circumstances, the form of adaptation, etc. 
⑨ Negotiation of Eastern-Western Culture
From the 16th century to the 18th, the West and East Asian (China) influenced each other reciprocally.
However, due to Eurocentrism which does not acknowledge other cultures, there was no real east-west negotiation thereafter.
Transcending pride and self-centeredness, east-west cultural negotiation which exchanges reciprocal influence should be resumed.
Through facing and negotiating with the other, the east and west can both have the opportunity to reflect on their prejudices and come to understand oneself and the world better.
We hope to contribute to trans-boundary humanities which overcomes the drawing of boundaries by pursuing mutually equal conversation amongst the east and west. 

3rd STAGE (2013-2017)


Proposing a New Look on Human Beings through Posthumanism
The penetration of digital technology into our lives in the 21st century is changing the structure of temporal and spatial experiences and sensory modalities, and bio-technological advances are blurring the traditional boundaries between human and animal, mind and body, organism and machinery, and the material and the immaterial. The Posthumanism Team is trying to respond to the challenges presented by rapid technological changes to the existing understanding of what being human means. Taking the critical standpoint against both naive optimism over technological advances and anti-scientific metaphysics, the team seeks to newly conceptualize and theorize the human in terms of three categories ─ human identity, embodiment, and the senses with respect to media ㅡ thus rewriting the modern humanistic understanding of human beings.

Trans-Boundary knowledge

Exploring the Specificity of Korean Humanities and Mapping 21st Century Humanistic Knowledge The Trans-Boundary Knowledge Team focuses on the formation and current state of modern knowledge, particularly on the process of knowledge formation and the unique intellectual identity of East Asia. Major themes of research include the intellectual landscape of modern times in Korea, China, and Japan in the context of East Asia and the restructuring of humanistic knowledge within the global-local paradigm. By marking out discourses of knowledge, carriers of knowledge, and exchanges of knowledge as particular areas of research, the team tries to examine the topography of the past, present, and future of Korean humanities knowledge in multidimensional ways. 

HK Project

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