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Yeonsil Kang, Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History at Drexel University

Yeonsil Kang, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of History
Office: 3025 MacAlister

Phone: 215.895.2463

Additional Sites:


  • PhD, Science and Technology Policy, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 2017
  • MS, Science and Technology Policy, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), 2012
  • BS, Environmental Science and Engineering, Ewha Womans University, 2009

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Science, technology, and environment
  • Disasters
  • Environmental Health
  • Asian Studies


My research focuses on the intersections of environment and nature, disasters,and the politics of scientific knowledge and engineering in East Asia.

Currently, I am working on a book manuscript, titled “Material Time, Bodily Time: Asbestos, Slow Disaster, and Toxic Politics in South Korea.” It explores the history and politics of asbestos as both praised and condemned material, within the changing social and political context of East Asia. I follow the traces of asbestos from mines to factories, cities, hospitals, streets and courts, revealing multiple scales and temporalities involved in asbestos exposure. This project sheds light on the significance of the time as the key political matter in the asbestos disaster.

In my second project, I look at the envirotechnical changes of the Han River in South Korea in the 20th century. “The Miracle of the Han River,” a metaphoric phrase referring to the rapid economic growth of South Korea, illustrates the symbolic and material connections between nature and development. I am interested in how these connections are manifested in the changing techno-environment of the Han, and how those changes have affected the people living along the river, upstream and downstream.

Before joining Drexel University, I researched and taught in South Korea. I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Catholic University of Korea, and a lecturer at Hanyang University. My research has been awarded fellowships from the National Research Foundation of Korea (2012-2014, 2017-2019). Other than academic works, I have been writing for popular media, and been involved in publishing a popular magazine called Epi, which explores the intersections of science and society.

Selected Publications:

  • Chihyung Jeon and Yeonsil Kang, “Nature, Technology, and History in the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project in Seoul,” Environmental History (forthcoming).
  • Yeonsil Kang, “Politics of Knowledge of Asbestos Activism in South Korea: Settled Dust Analysis and the Controversies over Asbestos Pollution Measurement,” Journal of Science and Technology Studies Vol. 18 no.1 (2018), pp. 130-175 (in Korean).
  • Yeonsil Kang, “Bodies as Evidence: Activists’ and Patients’ Responses to Asbestos Risk in South Korea,” Science, Technology, and Society Vol. 21 no.1 (2016), pp. 42-65.
  • Yeonsil Kang and Younghee Lee, “Environmental Risk and Biological Citizenship: The Case of Asbestos Victim’s Movement in Korea,” Civil Society and NGO Vol. 13 no.1 (2015), pp. 125-162 (in Korean).