Dr. Elizabeth Son’s research focuses on the relationship between histories of gender-based violence and transnational Asian/Asian American performance-based art and activism. She teaches courses on race, gender, and performance; performance, memory, and violence; and theatre and social change in U.S. and transnational contexts.
Based on extensive archival and ethnographic research, Son’s award-winning book Embodied Reckonings: “Comfort Women,” Performance, and Transpacific Redress (2018) examines the political and cultural aspects of contemporary performances (protests, tribunals, theatre, and memorial building) in South Korea, Japan, and the United States that have grappled with the history of Japanese military sexual slavery. She is working on two book projects: Possessing History, a monograph on the interrelationship between Korean diasporic women’s experiences of social and political violence, place, and performance, and Reclamation, an edited collection on Asian American advocacy in support of survivors of gender-based violence. Her essays have appeared in Asian Theatre Journal, Theatre Survey, Theater, e-misférica, Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, Race and Performance After Repetition, and The Routledge Companion to Theatre and Performance Historiography. She also writes op-eds, which have appeared in such publications as the Los Angeles Review of Books and The Hill.
Son’s work has been recognized with national fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Fulbright Program, and the Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly known as the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation). Her first book received the Book Award in Humanities and Cultural Studies (Visual, Performance, and Media Studies) from the Association for Asian American Studies, the Bonnie Ritter Outstanding Feminist Book Award from the National Communication Association, Feminist and Gender Studies Division, and the Outstanding Book Award from the Organization for the Study of Communication, Language, & Gender and was named a Finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award from the Theatre Library Association. She is also the recipient of the Florence Howe Award for Outstanding Feminist Scholarship from the Women’s Caucus for the Modern Languages, an allied organization of the MLA, and Honorable Mention for the Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research. Her teaching has been recognized with the Clarence Simon Award for Outstanding Teaching and Mentoring and the Karl Rosengren Faculty Mentoring Award at Northwestern University.
Son is the Director of the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama (IPTD) Program at Northwestern University. She also holds courtesy appointments in the Asian American Studies Program, Program in American Studies, and the Department of Performance Studies.
As an inaugural Mellon/ACLS Scholars & Society fellow, Son was a scholar-in-residence at KAN-WIN: Empowering Women in the Asian American Community, merging her interests in gender justice and the public humanities. She continues to partner with KAN-WIN as a crisis hotline volunteer and co-founding member of their “comfort women” justice advocacy team.