Jennifer Chun appointed Associate Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment

UCLA IRLE | June 30, 2023

Jennifer Jihye Chun, Ph.D., has been appointed as the Associate Director of UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE). 

IRLE Director, Tobias Higbie, announced Chun’s appointment which is set to begin July 1, 2023. 

“I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Chun as the next IRLE Associate Director,”  he said. “Dr. Chun’s ethnographic approach to social movement and labor union organizing deepens our understanding of the symbolic and social nature of power in workplaces and communities. She is a leader in the scholarship of contemporary care work, bringing together research teams from diverse perspectives to explore the intersections of migration, gender, race and work.”

Upon assuming her new position at the IRLE, Chun will lead a new “Transnational Gender and Labor Working Group” in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Women. 

“It is an exciting time to bring together people who are pushing the boundaries of how we conceptualize work and labor. Gender – and its connections with race, class, family, sexuality, migration, citizenship, and geopolitics – matter for the kinds of jobs and opportunities we get, and the way our contributions are recognized and valued.” said Chun.  “The rights and protections we have are too often denied because of the unequal systems that shape our everyday lives. The Transnational Gender and Labor Working Group will bring the intersectional and transnational dimensions of these inequalities to the forefront.” 

According to Higbie, the new Working Group will also be “a great opportunity to collaborate with campus partners, support students and faculty, and deepen our understanding of work–all of which are central to the mission of the IRLE.”

Chun joined UCLA as an Associate Professor in the Asian American Studies Department and the International Institute in 2018. Her courses are also regularly offered as part of UCLA’s labor studies program, IRLE’s interdepartmental major. 

Chun is the author of the award-winning book, “Organizing at the Margins: The Symbolic Politics of Labor in South Korea and the United States” (Cornell University Press, 2009), as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters on informal and precarious worker organizing; Asian immigrant women and community organizing; gender, migration, and care work; and global labor movements. Currently, she is writing a book monograph on protest cultures in South Korea with Ju Hui Judy Han.

As a graduate student, Chun recognized the importance of building collaborative relationships with labor and social movements by centering community-engaged research and teaching. It was then, Chun joined Asian Immigrant Women Advocates in Oakland to advocate for low-income immigrant Asian women workers. Here in Los Angeles, her students have had the opportunity to learn directly from organizers at the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, the Pilipino Workers Center, the Thai Community Development Center and the International Domestic Workers Federation.

Prior to coming to UCLA, Chun was a faculty member at the University of Toronto (2012-18) and the University of British Columbia (2006-12). Chun earned her Ph.D. and M.A. at UC Berkeley and her B.A. from Dartmouth College. 

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