Heijin Lee, Faculty, Department of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, UH Mānoa

S. Heijin Lee

Assistant Professor
Office: 721G
Telephone: 1 (808) 956-9177
Email: heijin.lee@hawaii.edu


I am a Korean feminist who grew up in the diaspora both in Chicago, IL and Southern California where my family still resides today. Ethnic Studies courses at UC Berkeley in the late 1990s changed my life. I learned about the interconnected histories of communities of color and developed a tool kit with which to analyze and understand the world around me. The faculty of color I learned from and who mentored me changed the trajectory of my life, bringing me where I am today. I am deeply committed to doing the same for my own students.


  • PhD, American Culture with a certificate in Women's Studies, University of Michigan, 2012
  • MA, Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, 2003
  • BA, Ethnic Studies and Spanish, University of California, Berkeley, 2000

Research Interests

I study how power works through our everyday pleasures – a music video, make-up tutorial, a style or “look.” To this end, I have written about K-beauty, K-pop, feminist activism, and food. I find that something as seemingly simple as beauty can tell us complicated stories about war, geopolitics, race, and gender. I specialize in pop culture, digital media, and critical fashion and beauty studies. My forthcoming book is called The Geopolitics of Beauty: Transnational Circulations of Plastic Surgery, Pop, and Pleasure.