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Dr. Timothy Gitzen is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wake Forest University. Broadly, his research focuses on the intersections of security, queer politics, surveillance, viruses, and social justice in South Korea. His newer research concerns queer youth sexuality and sex education in the United States.

Timothy’s research concerns the ways national security has been mobilized against queer folks in South Korea. It examines the ways this came to be, starting with the cultivation of national security primacy during the Cold War and the North Korean threat. He traces how policies and laws targeting the influence and threat of North Korea and communism came to include the targeting of marginalized populations, most notably queer folks. In addition to tracing this process in multiple settings, he explores how queer folks also participate in their own securitization and security making as attempts to be included in the national citizenry. He argues that by participating in their own securitization, queer folks are both placating to patriarchal and national authority that is responsible for their continued marginalization while also carving out spaces of endurance from within securitization practices and technologies. The forms of queer endurance he examines thus become immanent to security itself, challenging not only the contours of national security in South Korea, but global iterations and entanglements of security writ large.

In collaboration with a colleague in South Korea, Timothy is also working on a multi-faceted project that interrogates South Korea’s Covid-19 response, expansion of surveillance technologies, and the effects these have on queer folks. It specifically examines the mass surveillance technologies and techniques that deliberately target the non-normative behaviors, lifestyles, and practices of Koreans. These technologies include mandatory testing, collecting financial data, mapping social media data, tracking mobile phone GPS, and reporting the details of infected individuals to the public. This project thus details how queer folks navigate heightened surveillance practices—especially in the wake of a May 2020 outbreak within gay bars and clubs—alongside their navigation of the viral pandemic.

At Wake Forest, Timothy will begin a new project on queer youth sexuality and sex education, focusing specifically on college students in the United States. This research will track the informal networks, mechanisms, and practices college students use—and have used since high school—to learn about sex and sexuality. In particular, Timothy will explore how queer college students use technology, popular culture, and other avenues to not only learn how to be queer, but to cultivate subjectivities, relationships, and identities amidst a significant dearth of queer-affirming sex education in schools.

Timothy’s research has been published in a variety of publications—Cultural Studies, positions: asia critique, and Sexuality and Culture, to name a few—and has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, the Korea Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the University of Hong Kong’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities.

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