More About the Director
Born in Japan to Korean parents, Sonia Ryang grew up speaking both Korean and Japanese. Ryang received a Ph.D. degree in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University, England, and worked as a Research Fellow at the Research School for Pacific and Asian Studies, the
Australian National University, before being appointed as Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University. Ryang moved to the University of Iowa as an endowed chair of Korean Studies and professor of Anthropology. At Iowa, she directed the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies and also served as the Director
of Academic Programs in the University of Iowa International Programs.
Ryang currently holds a National Science Foundation grant researching North Korea and anthropology of totalitarianism. This project attempts practicing anthropological research in a society where a researcher is prohibited from conducting ethnographic fieldwork. By revisiting the American
cultural anthropological tradition of Study of Culture at a Distance, mostly practiced during the height of the Cold War, Ryang is exploring a mixed-method approach to study a closed society (North Korea, in this case) by deploying anthropological logic.
As the Director...
As the Director, Sonia Ryang is strongly interested in creating a collaborative teaching and research environment. Since her arrival in 2014, she has re-organized and strengthened the Asian Studies BA by introducing a capstone research class, and is currently working on the
new introductory class to be offered from the AY2017/18. She designed and created the
Transnational Asia Research Initiative, which enjoys broad support of the Asian Studies faculty at Rice and participation of excellent postdoctoral research fellows in the Center. She is also the editor-in-chief of the Chao Center's online journal,
Transnational Asia: An Online Interdisciplinary Journal .