UArizona honors Jeehey Kim with Early Career Scholar Award

Art History Assistant Professor Jeehey Kim, whose groundbreaking research in Asian photography has earned her international recognition, has been named a 2023 Early Career Scholar Award recipient by the University of Arizona.

Kim joins five other assistant professors being honored with the award, which recognizes outstanding early career faculty who are at the forefront of their disciplines and make valued contributions to the teaching, creative activity and service priorities.

Assistant Prof. Jeehey Kim

“Dr. Kim’s research, teaching and service intersect in important ways, and she has contributed to defining the University of Arizona as a center for the research and teaching of photography,” the School of Art’s nominating letter said, “complementing the international reputation of the Center for Creative Photography and the School of Art’s top-ranked studio art program in Photography, Video and Imaging.”

Kim earned her Ph.D. in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2015. She taught at several universities in New York, New Jersey and Korea, then held a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for the Art of East Asia at the University of Chicago before coming to the University of Arizona in 2019.

Dr. Kim’s research and publications encompass the history of photography, visual culture and film studies in East Asia and Southeast Asia. They touch on issues of colonialism, images of “the other,” identity politics and international relations in the 19th to 21st centuries.

As a scholar of East Asian visual culture, Dr. Kim’s interest in the politics of memory has led to an exploration through the medium of photography of the ethics of representation and the ways in which colonial legacies have structured trans-Asian modernity. Her recent research on vernacular photographic practices, documentary films, and visual culture in relation to the Cold War and gender politics in East Asia, has been published in international journals.

“In summing up this incredible list of accomplishments (for someone in their third year at the university!), the word that comes to my mind — besides sheer industriousness — is generosity,” wrote Professor Larry Busbea, who chairs the school’s Art History program.

“There is something in Dr. Kim’s work and general demeanor,” he continued, “that gives a clear indication that she is as concerned about the success of our program, of our students, affiliated institutions like the Center (for Creative Photography), as well as an international network of photo professionals, as she about that of her own research program.”

Since coming to the University of Arizona, Kim has developed nine courses in Art History at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, challenging students with content that incorporates her deep knowledge of the history of photography and her specialized subject of Asian photography.

In response to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, in Fall 2020 Dr. Kim designed an innovative and timely 400/500 class, “History of Photography: Black Lives Matter,” examining images by Black photographers and about Black lives since the mid-19th century.

She has also created two other advanced courses that reflect on postcolonialism through contemporary art in East Asia and on global indigenous photography, “demonstrating her versatility and ability to engage with cutting-edge intellectual topics in the classroom,” according to her faculty colleagues — Martina M. Shenal, James Cook, Irene Bald Romano and Carissa DiCindio — who nominated Kim for the early career award along with Busbea.

“Singapore Sikh Police Officer, 1941,” part of Carl Mydans collection at the CCP, which was part of the Nov. 18, 2022, virtual symposium organized by Dr. Kim.

Kim’s first book, “Imagining Korea through Photography,” London: Reaktion Books/Chicago: University of Chicago Press,” is forthcoming in June 2023. Her second, “Photography and Death: Funerary Photo-Portraiture in East Asia,” Leiden: Brill, is currently under review. Her article on “Contagious disease and visual media in Colonial Korea” will appear in a forthcoming 2023 book to be published by the Hong Kong University Press.

In addition, Kim has organized eight scholarly panels or symposia and presented more than 10 papers between 2019 and 2022. On Nov. 18, 2022, she organized a day-long, virtual symposium on “Photography and Southeast Asia: History and Practice,” co-sponsored by the School of Art, Arizona Arts and the Center for Creative Photography. The event included presentations by colleagues in CCP, from other institutions in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Earlier in November 2022 she was the moderator of a panel jointly organized by Dartmouth College and Harvard University on “Korean Art since the 1980s: Dynamism and Expansion.” She was a discussant on a College Art Association panel in Chicago in February 2020 on “The Cold War in the North-South Axis: Asian Art Beyond the U.S.-Soviet Dichotomy.” And, in March 2019 she gave an invited lecture at the University of Chicago on “Commemorating the Dead through Photography in East Asia.”

“The many ways Dr. Kim shares her research with scholarly and public audiences are impressive,” her nominating letter said. “She has built bridges and networks across disciplines, within local communities, and across international boundaries, significantly increasing the impact of her work and bringing major attention to the University of Arizona’s School of Art.”

Kim also has been an active contributor to improving equity, diversity and inclusion at all levels through her affiliation with the Faculty of Color in the School of Art and with Faculty of Color in the College of Fine Arts.

She received an M.A. of Philosophy in Art History from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 2010, and a B.A. in English Literature from Duksung Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea.

“I really appreciate all the support from my program, the School of Art and the College of Fine Arts,” Kim said in a note to faculty. “This is the award for all of us.”


  • Alex Craig, Assistant Professor, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering
  • Andrew Curley, Assistant Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Yuanyuan (Kay) He, Assistant Professor, Fred Fox School of Music, College of Fine Arts
  • Anna Josephson, Assistant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
  • Jeehey Kim, Assistant Professor, School of Art, College of Fine Arts
  • Andrew Paek, Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Biology, College of Science
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