Nancy Abelmann Obituary

Celebrate Nancy's remarkable 56 years of life with friends and colleagues on May 21, 2016, at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center in Urbana.

Nancy Abelmann passed away on January 6, 2016, at the age of 56. She was at home, surrounded by friends and family. Nancy was a brilliant scholar, a beloved and dedicated mentor, a respected colleague, and a cherished friend.

She was the Harry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she also held appointments in the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. She served as the Director of the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies from 2005 to 2008; and, since 2009, was the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research - Humanities, Arts, and Related Fields. She co-founded and co-directed the Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI). Additionally, Nancy served as president of the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology (2012-14), on the Korea Advisory Board of the Social Science Research Council, and on the North American Advisory Committee of the Korea Foundation.  Nancy was a founding member of the Asian American Studies Committee that helped establish the program and what is now the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois.

Nancy was a world-renowned anthropologist of Korea and of Korean America. Her publications addressing social movements in contemporary South Korea, women and social mobility in post-colonial South Korea, South Korean film, Korean America, and Asian and Asian American education and migration established her as a leading scholar in Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and Korean Studies.

Her publications include Blue Dreams: Korean Americans and the Los Angeles Riots, with John Lie (Harvard University Press, 1995); Echoes of the Past, Epics of Dissent: A South Korean Social Movement (University of California Press, 1996); The Melodrama of Mobility: Women, Class, and Talk in Contemporary South Korea (Hawaii University Press, 2003); South Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre, and National Cinema, co-edited with Kathleen McHugh (Wayne State University Press, 2005); The Intimate University: Korean American
 Students and the Problems of Segregation (Duke University Press, 2009); No Alternative?: Experiments in South Korean Education, co-edited with Jung-ah Choi and So Jin Park (University of California Press, 2012); South Korea’s Educational Exodus: The Life and Challenges of Early Study Abroad, co-edited with Adrienne Lo, Soo Ah Kwon, and Sumie Okazaki (University of Washington Press, 2015). She also authored numerous articles that appeared in journals including Amerasia, American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Anthropological Quarterly, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Journal of Studies in International Education, Journal of Korean Studies, and Social Text.  Her co-authored book with Sumie Okazaki, Making Family Work: How Korean American Teens and Parents Navigate Immigrant America is forthcoming. She was also co-Principal Investigator of The American University Meets the Pacific Century research project on the internationalization of the undergraduate student body at the University of Illinois.

A celebration of Nancy’s life will be held on May 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 601 S. Lincoln Ave. at the University of Illinois campus in Urbana.