Myung In Ji

mji226's picture
  • PhD Candidate
  • Teaching Assistant
  • Geography
Research Interests:

Ph.D. Geography, University of Kentucky (2014 – 2020)

M.A. Geography, Korea University (2010 – 2012)

B.A. Geography Education, Korea University (2006 – 2010)


I am an urban and cultural geographer specializing in Seoul, South Korea. My research interest lies at the intersection of urban changes and cultural politics. To be specific, I explore how cultural discourses and practices, which are built upon people’s desires, imaginations, embodiments, and performances, shape and reshape urban subjectivities and space-times, and vice versa.

My dissertation project, Becoming Gentrifier/d: Aesthetics, Subjectivities, and Rhythms of Gentrification in Seoul, South Korea, examines how the cultural politics around authenticity entwine with the urban processes of historic preservation, gentrification, and displacement. For this project, I conducted 13 months of in-depth qualitative fieldwork in Seochon, a gentrifying neighborhood in Seoul. In particular, I address three questions: 1) how the hyperreal simulacra of the past aesthetically assemble Seochon as an authentic urban village; 2) how the fantasy of authenticity endlessly renews the desire for something more authentic while sustaining the paradoxical subjectivities of gentrification; and 3) how the in-betweens on the topological edge of the gentrifier/gentrified embody and enact gentrification in and through the heterogeneous space-times of Seochon. 

Drawing upon the poststructural lenses of Baudrillard, Lacan, and Deleuze, I dismantle the dichotomies of good/bad, authentic/inauthentic, and gentrifier/gentrified and develop new frameworks to capture the psychic and rhythmic lives of gentrification and the complex dynamics of displacement. Consequently, my work contributes to the broader literature of urban and cultural studies by providing a more nuanced and textured analysis of gentrification and displacement, specifically in Seoul’s contexts, which have been understudied and dominated by political economy approaches. 

This project has given rise to several manuscripts for peer-review journals. The first manuscript “The Fantasy of Authenticity: Understanding the Paradox of Retail Gentrification in Seoul from a Lacanian Perspective” has been published in the journal Cultural Geographies while winning the AAG Urban Geography Specialty Group Dissertation Award. Two more articles are under review for two different peer-review journals. In addition to these three articles, I am currently planning two manuscripts about 1) my ethnographic research and lived experience of becoming gentrifier/d and 2) the fantasy of the Western and Non-western binary in urban scholarship. One of my goals in the next few years is to complete the publication of these manuscripts, and ultimately, incorporate and develop them into my first book. 

Selected Publications: 

Ji, M. I. (2020). “The Fantasy of Authenticity: Understanding the Paradox of Retail Gentrification in Seoul from a Lacanian Perspective.” Cultural Geographies.

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