About Me

Celeste L. Arrington

I am the Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University. My research focuses on law and social change, legal professionals, social movements, democratic governance, the media, and comparative policy processes, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. I am also interested in the international relations and security of Northeast Asia and transnational activism. I am a core faculty of the GW Institute for Korean Studies.

My first book was Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell University Press, 2016). My research has been published in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. Rights Claiming in South Korea, a book that I co-edited with Patricia Goedde, was published by Cambridge University Press in hardback in 2021 and paperback in 2022.

My current book project, titled From Manners to Rules: Activism for Legalistic Policy Solutions in South Korea and Japan, is under contract with Cambridge University Press’ Studies in Law and Society. It analyzes the changing role of lawyers and litigation in policy-making in Japan and Korea through paired case studies related to disability rights and tobacco control. This project is supported by an SSRC Research Fellowship. In 2022-2023, I am on sabbatical and affiliated with the Japan-Zentrum at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich thanks to a Humboldt Research Fellowship.

I received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and a A.B. from Princeton University. I was an advanced research fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University in 2010-2011 and a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2011-2012. I was also a member of the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future and the U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus. In 2017-2018, I was a fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. GW’s Office of the Vice President for Research awarded me the 2021 Early Career Research Scholar Award.