I am a cultural anthropologist whose research and writing are organized around core anthropological concerns with nature and culture and the biological and the social in the production of personhood and social value. In my past and ongoing projects––which include transnational adoption from South Korea, the ecologies of the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and transnational circulations of medicinal ginseng––I seek out the particular ways in which conceptions of the nation, personhood, politics, and human/non-human relations are performatively and discursively made and remade through cases that confound everyday assumptions about what is “natural” or “cultural.”
I received both my M.A. (with a Certificate in Culture and Media) and Ph.D. from New York University. In 2006, I was a Korea Foundation Postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Literatures. Before joining the UCI Anthropology faculty, I was an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Rochester (2007-2014), and editor of the Lewis Henry Morgan Lectures (2013-2014). I currently serve on the board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Society of East Asian Anthropology, as well as the Northeast Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies. Starting in 2016, I have been co-director of the Center for Asian Studies at UCI.
I can be reached at eleanak at uci dot edu.
My first name is pronounced /eleena/.