Presentation Title

On the limits of the sayable: North Korea, racism, and the media war concensus

Presenter Information

Derek Ford, DePauw UniversityFollow

Biographical Sketch

Derek R. Ford is assistant professor of education studies at DePauw University. He has written and edited 6 books, the most recent of which is "Education and the production of space: Political pedagogy, geography, and urban revolution" (Routledge, 2017).

Type of Presentation

Individual presentation

Brief Description of Presentation

As the public sphere is constituted by its outside--and what is unthinkable and unsayable (Butler, 2004)--it's crucial to investigate this outside and ask after its exclusion. This presentation does so by asking why and how it's become impossible to defend, support, or even accurately represent the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea).

Abstract of Proposal

The public sphere is constituted by its outside, or what is unthinkable and unsayable (Butler, 2004). Thus, it's crucial for any social justice project to investigate this outside and ask after the reasons behind and mechanisms of its exclusion. This presentation does so by turning to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). There is a consensus between mainstream and alternative media, the Trump administration, and the Pentagon over the DPRK, which each portrays as a rogue regime, a "big gulag," that brainwashes its population. The leadership is subjected to ridicule and racist caricatures by both the right and left. After demonstrating this consensus, I turn to the actual history of the DPRK, reflect on my recent scholarly visit there, and synthesize scholarship on the country to posit the unsayable: that the DPRK is a nation founded on liberation and independence, and is perhaps more worthy of defense than the U.S.

Start Date

2-24-2018 2:50 PM

End Date

2-24-2018 4:20 PM

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Feb 24th, 2:50 PM Feb 24th, 4:20 PM

On the limits of the sayable: North Korea, racism, and the media war concensus

The public sphere is constituted by its outside, or what is unthinkable and unsayable (Butler, 2004). Thus, it's crucial for any social justice project to investigate this outside and ask after the reasons behind and mechanisms of its exclusion. This presentation does so by turning to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea). There is a consensus between mainstream and alternative media, the Trump administration, and the Pentagon over the DPRK, which each portrays as a rogue regime, a "big gulag," that brainwashes its population. The leadership is subjected to ridicule and racist caricatures by both the right and left. After demonstrating this consensus, I turn to the actual history of the DPRK, reflect on my recent scholarly visit there, and synthesize scholarship on the country to posit the unsayable: that the DPRK is a nation founded on liberation and independence, and is perhaps more worthy of defense than the U.S.