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Distinguished scholar Bruce Cumings receives important award from South Korea

May 24, 2007

Bruce Cumings, a leading East Asian historian at the University of Chicago, has received South Korea’s first Kim Dae Jung Academic Award for Outstanding Achievements and Scholarly Contributions to Democracy, Human Rights and Peace. The award recognizes outstanding scholarship, and engaged public activity regarding human rights and democratization during the decades of dictatorship in Korea, and after the dictatorship ended in 1987.

The award was made at a ceremony on May 21 at Chonnam University in Kwangju in South Korea. The award, which is named in honor of Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of South Korea Kim Dae Jung, includes a prize of $10,000.  Kwangju is near Kim Dae Jung’s hometown and was long part of his political base.

Cumings had a conversation with President Kim at his home in Seoul on May 22.   They discussed the North Korean nuclear program, the Korean-American relationship, and what can be done to improve Korean attitudes toward the United States.

Cumings, an internationally respected scholar of East Asian political economy and international history, is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History and the College at the Univesity of Chicago.  In February 1985 he was a member of a foreign delegation that accompanied and sought to protect Kim Dae Jung when he returned from exile in the U.S. This was in the aftermath of the murder of Filipino dissident Benigno Aquino on the Manila tarmac when he also had returned from political exile in the U.S.

Cumings’ research focuses on 20th-century international history, U.S.-East Asian relations, modern Korean history and American foreign relations. He is interested in the multiple ways in which conceptions, metaphors and discourses are related to the political economy and relationships between Eastern and Western powers.

He is the author of a number of books, including the two-volume set, The Origins of the Korean War (1981, 1990), War and Television (1993); Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History (1997), Parallax Visions: American-East Asian Relationships at the End of the Century (1998), North Korea: Another Country (2003) and was co-author of Inventing the Axis of Evil (2004).
Cumings has recently finished a book entitled Dominion from Sea to Sea: Pacific Ascendancy and American Power, whichwill be published by Yale University Press next year.

In 1983, Cumings received the John. K. Fairbank Prize given by the American Historical Association for the best book in modern East Asian history; he was recognized for The Origins of the Korean War.

Cumings received a B.A. in 1965 from Denison University and a Ph.D. in 1975 from Columbia University. Before joining the Chicago faculty, he served on the faculties of Swarthmore College and the University of Washington.

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Last modified at 11:09 AM CST on Monday, July 23, 2007

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