Keynote lecture

Researching and Teaching ‘peripheries’ in transnational Asian Studies: The case of North-Korea

Dr. Sabine Burghart

Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS), University of Turku, Finland


North Korea’s status as a periphery in transnational Asian studies is in stark contrast to the high level of international, especially Western, media attention to the country’s leadership, its nuclear and missile programs, and human rights – indisputably important issues of concern. It is notable, though not surprising, that studies on transnationalism involving North Korea are largely concerned with migration, illicit trade and smuggling, and international human rights advocacy networks. This presentation discusses challenges and limitations as well as opportunities for researching and teaching North Korea in the regional and global context. Particular attention will be paid to methods, data and ethical issues. The presentation advocates for more international collaboration to deepen our understanding of North Korea – a country that, at least during non-pandemic times, is more connected to the ‘rest’ of the world than many would assume.

Short Bio

Sabine Burghart, PhD, is University Lecturer and Academic Director of the Master’s Degree Programme in East Asian Studies at the University of Turku, Finland. Prior to joining the Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) in Turku, she was lecturer and researcher at the Department of East Asian Studies of the University of Vienna. She holds a doctoral degree in East Asian economy and society. Her current research interests concern international aid and institutions in North Korea as well as South Korea’s foreign aid initiatives in East Africa. In 2018 and 2019, she was awarded ‘CEAS Teacher of the Year’. She spent more than five years of her professional career in Korea and facilitated various capacity building projects and three EU-DPRK economic workshops in North Korea.