Hyangseon (Irene) Ahn

Ph.D. in Sociology
University of California, San Diego



In August 2024, I will join the School of Public Affairs at American University as an Assistant Professor of Justice, Law and Criminology.  I received my Ph.D in Sociology at the University of California, San Diego.

My research delves into the experiences of marginalized individuals and groups affected by state violence. I am particularly interested in cultural sociology, economic sociology, law and society, and transitional justice in East Asia and beyond, and I am trained in comparative-historical and ethnographic methods. I am deeply interested in understanding how communities aggrieved by state violence engage with the state authorities to address past injustices, all through a sociological lens.

My dissertation examines the intricate dynamics of redress movements related to historical grievances, with a focus on the relationship between monetary compensation and the construction of victim identity. I examine the under-explored historical grievance experiences of East Asia, particularly Taiwan and South Korea. Drawing from intensive fieldwork conducted in both Taiwan and South Korea between 2021 and 2023, my comparative analysis seeks to elucidate the differing reactions to similar reparations initiatives among victims of historical injustices.


My research has been published in the American Journal of Cultural Sociology, and I am honored to have received a student paper award from the International Conference on Sociology of Korea. My research has been supported by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Institute of Sociology of Academia Sinica, the Jeju 4.3 Peace Foundation, the Joseph Naiman Fellowship, and multiple UC San Diego internal fellowships.


Before coming to UC San Diego, I worked as a research intern at the Korea Chair within the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, D.C., and the Seoul National University Asia Center in Seoul. My academic journey includes an MA from the Government Department at Georgetown University, and both an MA and a BA in International Relations from Peking University.