Soo Ah Kwon

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Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, Human Development and Family Studies, and EUI

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Contact Information:

  • Address:
    Asian American Studies
    1208 W. Nevada St, MC 142
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • Telephone: (217) 333-3938
  • Email:

Biography

Soo Ah Kwon (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley 2005) is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies and Human Development and Family Studies. She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose research interests include youth activism and culture, national and transnational social movements, global youth participation and governance, the intersections of nonprofit and NGO in citizenship and governance, immigrant and urban communities, and qualitative and comparative research.

Her book Uncivil Youth: Race, Activism and Affirmative Governmentality (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the rise of social justice-oriented nonprofits which support youth of color activism as embedded within a logic of neoliberal governance to enable and manage potentially “at-risk” youth of color to become "good" self-empowered democratic subjects and deploys  civil society as a mode of affirmative governmentality.

My current book project, Youth Participation and the Making of Global Citizens examines the political philosophy of transnational youth rights and governance. S 

She is co-editor of South Korea’s Education Exodus: The Life and Times of Study Abroad (University of Washington Press, 2015) that examines the considerable exodus of South Korean children to English speaking countries.  

She is also co-PI of The American University Meets the Pacific Century (with Nancy Abelmann, Tim Liao, and Adrienne Lo), a research project that is examining the University of Illinois as a contact zone in which rapid surge of international undergraduate students, particularly from China and South Korea, interact with American students, whose futures will be increasingly impacted by global transformation. We attend to how interactions among international and domestic students are changing the dynamics of race at the American university. We employ a mixed methods approach combining qualitative ethnographic case studies with college surveys to investigate this campus internationalization.

Education

  • Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Distinctions / Awards

  • List of Teachers Ranked as Outstanding, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Fall 2006, Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015
  • Arnold O. Beckman Research Award, “The Globalization of the University: International Undergraduate Students at the University of Illinois,” Scholars Research Board Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2011-2013
  • Center for Democracy in a Multiracial Society Institute Faculty Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007-2008
  • Humanities Time Release, Scholars Research Board, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009-2010
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Teachers College, Columbia University, 2005-2006

Grants

  • Spencer Foundation, “The American University Meets the Pacific Century (AUPC)” with Co-PIs: Nancy Abelmann, Tim Liao, and Adrienne Lo. 2014-2015
  • USDA HATCH Illinois Experiment Station, “Youth Participation and the Making of Global Citizens.” 2012-2016
  • Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities Small Events Grant with Jessica Greenberg, 2013-2014
  • Graduate College Focal Point Grant for “Women and Children First: Critical Inquiries in Nonprofit and Nongovernmental Organizations and the Global Governance of Care” with Mimi Nguyen, Fay Hodza, and Sarah Cassinelli, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2011-2012
  • “South Korea’s Education Exodus: Early Study Abroad and the Global Project,” wtih Adrienne Lo, Scholars Research Board, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2009-2011
  • “The East Asian-ization of the American Undergraduate Student Body” with Nancy Abelmann and Adrienne Lo, International Program Studies, Hewlett International Conference Grant,University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011-2012
  • “The Exodus of College Students from East Asia and the Globalization of the American Undergraduate Body” with Nancy Abelmann and Adrienne Lo, The Center for Global Studies, Prisms of Globalization Lecture Series Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011-2012
  • “The Globalization of the University: International Undergraduate Students at the University of Illinois,” Arnold O. Beckman Research Award, Scholars Research Board Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2011-2013
  • “Transnational Nongovernmental Organizations and Youth Empowerment," Scholars Research Board Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2011-2013
  • The Internationalization of U of I Undergraduates: Conceptualizing a Transforming University,” Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities new collaborative Research Projects, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2010-2012
  • “Uncivil Youth”, Scholars Research Board Grant, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008-2009
  • “Immigrant and Second- Generation Youth Building Political Capital in their Families and Communities,” USDA HATCH Illinois Experiment Station, 2006-2011
  • The Center for Popular Education and Participatory Research (CPEPR) at UC Berkeley, Irvine Foundation, Waitt Foundation, Spencer Foundation, and the Berkeley School of Education.  Monies to Co-Found Research Center, Awarded total $250,000

Courses

  • AAS 100: Introduction to Asian American Studies
  • AAS 246: Asian American Youth in Film
  • AAS 346/HDFS 341: Asian American Youth
  • HCD 533: Communities in American Society
  • HCD 539/AAS 539: Youth, Culture, and Society

Publications

Books

  • Kwon, Soo Ah. Uncivil Youth: Race, Activism and Affirmative Governmentality. . Durham: Duke University Press, 2013.

Book Contributions


  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "Introduction: South Korea's Education Exodus: History, Context, and Motivations." South Korea’s Educational Exodus: The Life and Times of Study Abroad. . Comp. Nancy Abelmann, Adrienne Lo, and Sumie Okazaki. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015. 1-21.

  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "Youth of color organizing for juvenile justice." Beyond Resistance: Youth Activism and Community Change: New Democratic Possibilities for Policy and Practice. . Ed. Shawn Ginwright, Pedro Noguera, and Julio Cammarota. New York: Routledge Press, 2006. 215-228.

Edited Books


  • South Korea’s Educational Exodus: The Life and Times of Study Abroad. . Seattle: Washington University Press, 2015.

Journal Articles

  • "The Comforts and Discomforts of Race." Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences (LATISS) 6.3 (2013): 39-50.
  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "The Politics and Institutionalization of Panethnic Identity." Journal of Asian American Studies 16.2 (2013): 137-157.
  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "Deporting Cambodian Refugees: Youth Activism, State Reform, and Imperial Statecraft." positions: asia cultural critique 20.3 (2012): 737-762.
  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "Moving from Complaints to Action: Oppositional Consciousness and Collective Action in a Political Community." Anthropology and Education Quarterly 39.1 (2008): 59-76.
  • Kwon, Soo Ah , Kysa Nygreen, and Patricia Sanchez. "Urban Youth Building Community: Social Change and Participatory Research in Schools, Homes, and Community-Based Organizations." Journal of Community Practice 14.1/2 (2006): 105- 122.
  • Kwon, Soo Ah. "Autoexoticizing: Asian American Youth and the Import Car Scene." Journal of Asian American Studies 7.1 (2004): 1-26.