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Nan KimScott Bills Memorial Prize
First Book / Dissertation in Peace History Published in 2016-17
Awarded October 2019

The Peace History Society awards the Scott Bills Memorial Prize bi-annually (in odd years) for an outstanding English-language work in the field of Peace History. This year, the Prize is awarded for an outstanding first book or an outstanding dissertation by a faculty member or independent scholar completed in 2016 or 2017. The Prize carries a cash award of $500.

For the best first book published or dissertation completed in English during 2016-17, the Bills Committee awards the Bills' Memorial Prize to Nan Kim for her book,Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea: Crossing the Divide (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

Nan Kim’s book, Memory, Reconciliation, and Reunions in South Korea, is an innovative and interdisciplinary exploration of South Korea's post-war past and its very personal contemporary implications. She has written an historically contextualized ethnographic study of shifting perceptions of North-South Korean familial relations following the Korean War. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Kim draws on classical anthropological theorists and her application of them to modern Korea is a striking contribution to understandings of Korean history. Her fieldwork draws on interviews with Korean families and is informed by the key anthropological works of Van Gennep, Victor Turner, Mary Douglas, and Sigmund Freud, among others. Kim’s analysis of the everyday impact of separation and reconciliation is an excellent methodological contribution to the field of peace history. She analyzes the "liminality" of family members who were politically detained on either side of the 38th Parallel following the Korean War and then, in 2000, came to symbolize the potential for shifting inter-Korean relations in the historic and intensely personal cross-border family reunions organized for that year. This potential proved to be very short-lived, Kim argues, owing to external political dynamics impinging on the two nations after 9/11. Kim’s book is an important contribution to the English-language historiography on Korea and showcases the connections between the local consequences of geopolitics and the global legacies of the Cold War and 9/11.

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