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So Yeon Leem


So Yeon Leem received her doctoral degree in science and technology studies (STS) from Seoul National University (SNU), South Korea, in 2012. Her research interests include governance and ethics of biomedicine in everyday life, authethnography and new methodologies of medicine, as well as plastic surgery and globalization. Her co-authored article about feminist critiques of Dr. Hwang’s stem cell research was published in East Asian Science, Technology, and Society: an International Journal in 2008. She wrote articles about technological practices in medicine, feminist STS, public understanding of science and ethnographic methodologies, and recently published a book entitled “Living as a Cyborg in the Age of Science and Technology” in Korean. She taught at several universities in South Korea, worked for Science Culture Research Center, the Institute for Basic Science at SNU, and continued her career at the Department of Sociology at London School of Economics as a visiting research associate from January 2014.

Scientific Project Anxious Beauty: Plastic Surgery, Contemporary Korea, and I

This project is a pioneering attempt to write a book regarding the legitimatization of plastic surgery, the development of the Republic of Plastic Surgery, and the production of a beauty in modern to contemporary Korea. First, I would like to show that beauty is an uncontrollable and unpredictable effect of plastic surgery as health is of medicine. Plastic surgery is not a mere technology but a heterogeneous socio-technological network: becoming beautiful involves a variety of negotiations and mediations between many bodies, things, and knowledge. Second, I will demonstrate that plastic surgery is the technology of practitioner-self as well as that of patient-self. Plastic surgeons are heterogeneous, embodied actors who negotiate with both patients and other experts such as governmental officials, business professionals, and other scientists to legitimate their practices. Third, I would like to reveal that the Republic of Plastic Surgery is a notion which has been constructed by Korean elites, including journalists, intellectuals, social scientists, and feminists, who borrow perspectives and tools from modern sciences and western theories. The exploration of plastic surgery in Korea will bring us to the troubled matrix of bodies, everyday lives, biomedicine, a nation, and a globalized world. This project also proposes the new concept of ‘anxiety’ as an analytical and political tool to describe the uncontrollable and unpredictable practices of medical technology and includes multiple voices. Further, it suggests a new critical position for an anthropologist of global health to contribute to the reconstruction of medical knowledge. 

Anthropologie & santé mondiale
Post-doctorant-e-s 2014