Celeste Arrington

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Celeste Arrington

Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs



Office Phone: (202) 994-6601

Professor Arrington specializes in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. Her research interests include law and social change, legal professionals, social movements, democratic governance, the media, comparative policy processes, and qualitative research methods. She is also interested in the international relations and security of Northeast Asia and transnational activism. She is a core faculty of the GW Institute for Korean Studies.

Professor Arrington's first book was Accidental Activists: Victims and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell University Press, 2016). Her research has also been published in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, Foreign Affairs, and the Washington Post, among other outlets.

Her current book, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press’ Studies in Law and Society, 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. She co-edited with Patricia Goedde a volume entitled Rights-Claiming in South Korea, which is forthcoming Cambridge University Press.

Professor Arrington earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and an A.B. from Princeton University. She was an advanced research fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University in 2010-2011. During the 2011-2012 year, she was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She was also a member of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future and its U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus. In 2017-2018, she was a fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University.

By appointment, please email me

East Asian politics and policy-making, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, state-society relations, social movements, law and society, media and politics.

Professor Arrington is currently writing a book analyzing lawyers' roles in policy-making and the growing prominence of litigation, the courts, and rights language in Japanese and Korean politics. The book project focuses on policies related to persons with disabilities and tobacco control. Other ongoing projects explore how lawyers organize, disability-related protest, evolving legal opportunity structures, and state actor-movement coalitions in Korea and Japan. 

PSC 2368 - Politics in the Two Koreas

PSC 3192 - Protest and Participation in East Asia

PSC 6374 - Korean Politics

PSC 6388 - States and Societies in East Asia

PSC 8388 - Social Movements

Disabled People’s Fight for Rights in South Korea and Japan,” Current History 120, no. 827 (Sept. 2021): 233-239.

Insider Activists and Secondhand Smoke Countermeasures in Japan,” Asian Survey 61, no. 4 (July/August 2021).

"Rights Claiming in South Korea." (co-edited with Patricia Goedde). Cambridge University Press, 2021.

“Legal Mobilization and the Transformation of State-Society Relations in the Realm of Disability Policy in Korea,” in Civil Society and the State in Post High Growth East Asia, edited by David Chiavacci, Simona Grano, and Julia Obinger (Amsterdam University Press, 2020): 297-323.

“How to Analyze Data: Qualitative Content and Frame Analysis,” in Studying Japan: Research Design, Fieldwork, and Methods, edited by Nora Kottmann and Cornelia Reiher (Nomos Verlag, 2020).

Cause Lawyering and Movement Tactics: Disability Rights Movements in South Korea and Japan,” (with Yong-il Moon), Law & Policy 42, no. 1 (January 2020).

The Mechanisms behind Litigation’s ‘Radiating Effects’: Historical Grievances against Japan,” Law & Society Review 53, no. 1 (March 2019): 6-40.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Pseudonymity and Participation in Legal Mobilization,” Comparative Political Studies (online first May 10, 2018), 52 no. 2 (2019): 310-341.

The Mutual Constitution of the Abductions and North Korean Human Rights Issues in Japan and Internationally,” Pacific Affairs 91, no. 3 (September 2018): 471-498.

“Linking Abductee Activism and North Korean Human Rights Advocacy in Japan and Abroad,” in Andrew Yeo and Danielle Chubb, eds. North Korean Human Rights: Activists and Networks (Cambridge University Press, June 2018): 85-108.

Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea. Cornell University Press, 2016.

"The Access Paradox: Media Environment Diversity and Coverage of Activist Groups in Japan and Korea." Journal of East Asian Studies 17:1 (2017): 69-93.

“Leprosy, Legal Mobilization, and the Public Sphere in Japan and South Korea.” Law & Society Review 48:3 (2014): 563-593.

“The Abductions Issue in Japan and South Korea: Ten Years after Pyongyang’s Admission.” International Journal of Korean Studies 17:2 (2013): 108-139.

“The Politics of NGOs and Democratic Governance in South Korea and Japan,” (with Lee Sook-Jong). Pacific Focus 23:1 (2008): 75-96.

“Democratization and Changing Anti-American Sentiments in South Korea.” (with Oh Chang Hun). Asian Survey 47:2 (2007): 327-350.

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley