Before I arrived in this land, with its humid air, honeysuckle smells, shiny magnolia leaves, and many crossroads, I had walked through different parts of the world. I was born and raised in the crowded and dramatically changing Seoul, Korea, where I received a bachelor’s degree in French literature. During that time, I had been involved in Korea’s student movement, which nurtured my sociological imagination and eventually led me to pursue further study in Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, then at SUNY at Buffalo where I received master’s and doctoral degrees in Sociology. My doctoral dissertation studies the issue of identity through eating practices drawing on the work of social theorists such as Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. As I wrote my dissertation, I lived half of my time in England but also traveled around Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, Korea, and New York City. These travels prompted yet another set of academic interests around nomadic identities. While my primary intellectual interest is in social theory, I have a long-standing fascination with questions such as: “What are the possibilities and dilemmas inherent in social transformation?” “What are the everyday strategies people use to deal with these possibilities and dilemmas?”
Although I arrived in Oxford four years ago as a visiting professor, I was subsequently hired in a tenure-track position to teach social theory and culture as an assistant professor. Now Mississippi is my home – in a sense one of many homes, including New York City and Seoul. I am interested in a range of topics: cultural globalization, cultural meanings attached to consumption, East Asian identities in transition, virtual communities, contrasting discourses on methodology, varying forms of civic engagement, everyday strategies, and diasporas. I approach these topics from a multidisciplinary perspective, drawing on sociology, history, anthropology, literary theory, and economics.
My dissertation examines from a post-colonial perspective the intersection of eating practices and identity, particularly as they are affected by globalization. In the context of current debates around healthy food and fast food, my work suggests that a more inclusive theoretical framework is needed to understand this highly globalized contemporary society and the way we eat in it. I have focused on issues of identity in other contexts. In “Shopping and Postmodernism: Consumption, Production, Identity, and the Internet,” which appears in New Forms of Consumption (Rowman & Littlefield, 2000), I assess current theories of consumer identity by discussing practices of on-line shopping. In a more recent article in progress, I have developed a Foucauldian reading of the Confucian self, in which I offer a new type of “microphysics” to understand aspects of East Asian subjectivity.
While I don’t claim to be a food scholar (per se), the subject of food has proved to be a fruitful (no pun intended!) way to think about a variety of social issues. For a project broadly surveying the literature on sociology of food, I co-authored with Dr. Elise Lake, “Sociology of Food” for The Handbook of 21st Century Sociology (Sage Publications, 2006). At regional and national conferences, I have presented several papers around the issue of food such: “Food and Culture: Politics of Place,” “Inventing and Mobilizing Identity through Snack Food,” “Fast Food Frontiers: I’ve got feeling that we are not Kansas any more,” “Global Eating Practices and Eclectic Identity: Intercultural Transformation of the Eastern Asian Block,” “The Boundary of Ethnic Identity and Eating Practice,” “Venerable Home: Fusion Cooking and Nouvelle Cuisine,” and “Human Bites Dog: Gnawing at the Irremediable Other.” These papers will become part of my book in progress tentatively titled, Eating Practices and Identity in Contemporary Society.
2011. Minjoo Oh & Jeffrey T. Jackson. “Animal Rights vs. Cultural Rights: Exploring the Dog Meat Debate in South Korea from a World Polity Perspective.” Journal of Intercultural Studies 32 (1): 31-56. doi:10.1080/07256868.2010.491272
2007. Elise S. Lake & Minjoo Oh. “The Sociology of Food & Eating.” In C. Bryant & D. Peck (eds.), 21st Century Sociology. Sage Publications.
2000. Minjoo Oh & Jorge Arditi. “Shopping and postmodernism: Consumption, production, identity, and the Internet.” In M. Gottdiener (ed.), New Forms of Consumption: Consumers, Culture, and Commodification. Rowman & Littlefield.