“Historical Reconciliation in Northeast Asia: Can the United States Play a Role?”
Presented by Gi–Wook Shin, Director of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia–Pacific Research Center, Stanford University
Northeast Asia has witnessed growing intra–regional interactions, especially in the realms of culture and economy. Yet wounds from past wrongs—committed during colonialism and war—are not fully healed and the question of history has become heated across Northeast Asia. East Asians have recognized the need for reconciliation and sought to achieve that goal through various tactics—apology politics, litigation, joint history writing, and regional exchanges. While each had its own merit none have succeeded and all nations, sharing a reluctance to fully confront the complexity of that past, tend to blame others. With the increased salience of the history question in Northeast Asian regional relations, a growing body of works, both academic and policy–oriented, addresses this issue. However, much of the discourse treats the history question as an intra–Asian issue and neglects to involve the U.S. as a central variable. A predominant view among U.S. officials has been that this is primarily a matter for Asians. However, the United States can hardly afford to stand outside these disputes and we need to explore how the U.S. can play a constructive role in facilitating historical reconciliation in the region.
Gi–Wook Shin is a professor of sociology and the director of the Shorenstein Asia–Pacific Research Center at Stanford University. As historical–comparative and political sociologist, his research concentrates on social movements, nationalism, development, and international relations.
Shin is also the founding director of the Korean Studies Program at Stanford, and enjoys giving frequent lectures on topics ranging from Korean nationalism and politics to Korea's foreign relations and the plight and history of Korean Americans.
Prior to his appointments at Stanford, Shin taught at the University of Iowa and the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his BA from Yonsei University in Korea, and was awarded his MA and PhD from the University of Washington.