Vibrant Matters: Fish, Fishing and Community in North Korea and Neighbours

Dr. Robert Winstanley-Chesters
Tuesday, August 27, 2019 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
10,000won for non-members and 5,000won for student non-members (with student ID card); free for members

Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch lecture series

이미지: 사람 1명 이상, 사람들이 앉아 있는 중, 어린이, 음식, 실외

Vibrant Matters: Fish, Fishing and Community 

in North Korea and Neighbours


North Korea's topographies have long been harnessed in support of its politics, its maritime infrastructures historically serving politico-developmental narratives, forging new 'socialist' landscapes and geo-political connections. Little consideration has been given to the wider 'web of life' within or underneath these landscapes. Today's lecture therefore considers North Korea's maritime geography as an assemblage of participants, what Jane Bennett has termed 'vibrant' matter, the mid 1970s saw new geographies of extraction emerging from its coastlines as cooperatives were formed from maritime communities elsewhere. Such spaces have since slipped off Pyongyang's developmental radar, becoming marginal, half-remembered sites, their landscapes degrading through institutional neglect, overfishing and climate change. The lecturer will consider North Korea's own historical strategies for the management of fishing and aquacultural space, especially local political conceptions of conservation. For context, he examines the practices of other fishing communities in neighbouring nations such as Gageodo, South Korea, Tong Shui Gou in China and the Russian Federation. He also considers North Korea's place within the wider global and Pacific histories and Empires of Fishing and contemporary ecological and environmental crises that have stripped life from the sea, destroying and denuding planetary watery ecosystems. With all of this in mind, the lecture will explore North Korean negotiations of watery place at historical, geo-political, regional and local scale and the (re)construction of new geographies and forms of maritime 'vibrant matter' in a national space permanently in transition.

Robert Winstanley-Chesters is a geographer, Lecturer at the University of Leeds, Birkbeck, University of London and formerly a Research Fellow at Australian National University and a Post-Doctoral Fellow of Cambridge University (Beyond the Korean War). He obtained his doctorate from the University of Leeds with a thesis later published as “Environment, Politics and Ideology in North Korea” in 2014. His second monograph “Vibrant Matters(s): Fish, Fishing and Community in North Korea and her Neighbours” will be published by Springer Nature in December 2019. A third co-authored monograph, “New Goddesses of Mt Paektu: Gender, Violence, Myth and Transformation in Korean Landscapes” will be published in 2020 by Lexington. He is currently researching fishing and animal/creaturely geographies in North Korea, geographic interactions between Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and colonial Chosen and the colonial mineralogical and forest inheritances of the Korean peninsula. 

Venue:          Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace,

                      Gwanghwamun (near Anguk Station, across street from Japanese Embassy)

                      * Somerset Palace is no longer providing free parking. 


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Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
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[03129] 서울시 종로구 대학로 19 (연지동) 한국기독교회관 611호

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