Javier Cha

Cambridge, MA

Javier Cha

Cambridge, MA

I am a graduate student at Harvard University. My PhD dissertation advances new explanations for the reception of Confucianism in Korea between 1000 and 1500.

As an intellectual historian of East Asia, I am interested in evaluating the potential of Confucianism as a resource for building and reflecting on our multicultural society. Using Korea as a case study, I aim to better understand two intriguing aspects of Confucian thought: (1) the role of tradition in cultural innovation; and (2) portability. My dissertation examines the Korean appropriation of Neo-Classicism, a resurgent brand of Confucianism from eleventh-century China that redefined the relationship between the ancients and the moderns. I pay particular attention to the centrality of nativist rhetoric at the heart of this intellectual movement, questioning its appeal in non-Chinese environments. The medieval Koreans, in my view, ingeniously muddled the native/foreign divide, to the extent that the Confucian reforms were regarded as an effort to recover a lost past, rather than a domestication of a foreign culture.

I endeavor to approach Korean history from perspectives indicative of our global and digital world, exploring research questions outside the scope of modernization and industrial development. The Cold War ended more than twenty years ago, and South Korea at present is the twelfth largest economy boasting the most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in the world.

My active advocacy of "the digital turn" in Korean studies reflects one aspect of this ongoing effort. I have organized panels, presented papers, and participated in workshops in topics ranging from GIS and network analysis to database design and methodology. You will find a list of my current database projects on my blog.

If you specialize in mathematics, computer science, visual design, or a related field, please consider collaborating with me in these projects:

marriage networks
ring networks; measuring cohesion; edge lists consisting of 1000 to 4000 individuals

visual narratives of East Asian intellectual history
using conceptual diagrams, maps, paintings, material objects, etc.

subjective maps
historical maps warped as a function of travel time; strategies of representing imperfections

  • Education
    • Harvard University
    • University of British Columbia