Field: International and Global; Advisors: Nguyen & Stephanson; Year: 2015
Thomas is a PhD candidate working on intellectual and cultural histories of divided Korea in the world. His dissertation, “Psychological Warfare, Ideology, and Realism in Cold War Korea, 1946-1973,” examines the use of culture in transnational campaigns of anticommunist psychological warfare, focusing on the period from the outbreak of insurgency in U.S.-occupied southern Korea to the withdrawal of South Korean troops from the Vietnam War. This interdisciplinary research reads literary fiction and film against war correspondence, reportage, and popular writing to highlight the mobilization of intellectual and affective labor into the “documentary” representation of war and development on the Korean peninsula and in South Vietnam. Funded by research grants from the Korea Foundation and Academy of Korean Studies, it contributes to scholarship on postcolonial literature, comparative media, militarism, and visual culture as well as historiographies of the global Cold War. Thomas is also engaged in a separate project on the role of the North Korean defector memoir in transnational anticommunist knowledge production.
Originally from Vancouver, Thomas has lived for a cumulative five years in South Korea, including extended stays at Sungkyunkwan University and Korea University in Seoul in addition to two years teaching in the southwestern city of Kwangju.