2022-23 Moon Family Postdoctoral Fellow in Korean Studies

Wenjiao Cai is a historian of Korea whose research and teaching interests lie at the nexus of environmental history, the history of science and technology, and borderland studies. While at Penn, Wenjiao will develop her first book manuscript, tentatively entitled Coping with the Cold: Nature and State on Chosŏn Korea’s Northern Frontier, a climate history of Chosŏn frontier expansion in P’yŏngan and Hamgyŏng provinces (in present-day North Korea). It examines the ways that the kingdom’s bureaucrats understood and responded to the frigid climate in northern Korea and how human-climate interactions shaped governance, economy, society, and the environment on the frontier. This project will offer a new ecological perspective on state-building in early modern Korea and bring Chosŏn climate knowledge production and environmental governance into discussions of world history. Wenjiao’s research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, Korea Foundation, Kyujanggak Institute, and various research centers at Harvard University. She received her Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages (HEAL) from Harvard University.