Dr Jennifer Hough

Key information

Research Fellow Centre of Korean Studies Research Associate, Centre of Korean Studies
BA (Hons) (Durham); MPhil (Cambridge); MSc, DPhil (Oxford)
Email address


Dr Jennifer Hough is a social anthropologist and postdoctoral research fellow on the interdisciplinary Laboratory Programme for Korean Studies project ‘Varieties of Korean: Global, Local and Individual’, funded by the Academy of Korean Studies. She researches issues at the intersection of language and identity for North Koreans who live in South Korea, with whom she has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork. More broadly, she is interested in the politics of inclusion and exclusion in partitioned societies.

Jennifer completed her doctoral research at the University of Oxford in 2017 with a thesis entitled ‘North Koreans in South Korea: Humanitarian subjects and neoliberal governance,’ fully funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Based on semi-structured interviews and long-term participant observation, she considered the experiences of young North Koreans as they adapt to their new lives in South Korea, using their narratives to explore the gap between the expectations and realities of assimilation. The thesis argues that the specific challenges that these incomers face partly reflect a particular mode of governance in South Korea, raising questions about the nature of nationality and citizenship in a uniquely partitioned historic nation. Building on her doctoral work, her ongoing research continues to focus on questions of social inequality, belonging, and citizenship, with particular emphasis on language politics, charity, and welfare. She has also carried out research with Palestinian artists in Jerusalem and the West Bank.  

She holds a BA (Honours) in Arabic, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from Durham University, and an MPhil and MSc in Social Anthropology, from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, respectively. She was formerly 2018-19 Pony Chung Foundation Research Professor at Korea University, and a Postdoctoral Affiliate at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.

Research interests

Social anthropologist working with North Korean defectors/refugees in contemporary South Korea; language politics; social inequality; belonging, identity, & citizenship; humanitarianism & social welfare.


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