Asian Dolls and the Westernized Gaze: Notes on the Female Dollification in South Korea


Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea, 2011.


This article offers a strictly qualitative approach to the range of historical and contemporary cultural practices and images, as well as literary histories, regarding dolls and dollification in East Asian context. The phenomenon of people, and especially women, considered and/or fashioned into “living dolls” is confirmed ethnographically and discussed theoretically. Direct ethnographic voices and the author’s own autoethnographic and theoretical observations regarding South Korean everydayness and/or popular culture are included, covering dollification in its narrower, subcultural and/or fetishistic sense, but also, more importantly, in its broader sense as the loose yet visible entanglement of already normalized and mainstreamed gendered procedures, narratives, and events. Dollification is analyzed in conjunction with the problematic aspect of Westernized gaze and the ongoing need for both feminist and post-colonial critiques of limited agency and social mobility of undollified women.

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