Skip to main content

Yuri Doolan


Yuri Doolan (originally from Cleveland, Ohio) is a PhD Candidate in American History at Northwestern University. He specializes in Asian American history, US-Korea relations, and Modern Korean history. At Northwestern, Yuri has taught classes within the Department of History and Asian American Studies Program about the Korean War and its legacies.

Yuri’s dissertation project, “The First Amerasians: Mixed Race Koreans from Camptowns to America” examines the historical conditions through which mixed race Koreans emerged as a population in addition to the social, cultural, and political constructions of the Amerasian within the American imaginary. He argues that the Amerasian is not just an individual fathered by an American serviceman and Asian woman, rather it is a Cold War construct created in the aftermath of wars that were not quite won by the US military, beginning with Korea. He asserts that Korea’s mixed race children were the first Amerasians—for it was through the American public’s introduction to the Korean case that they first came to know and understand who Amerasians were, prompting their "rescue" via emergency babylifts, refugee, and adoption laws beginning in the 1950s.

Chapters in his dissertation span the following topics: (1) The creation of the camptown military sex industry in the early years of the US Army Military Government in Korea—a space that facilitated the contact between American servicemen and Korean women and provided the conditions through which many mixed race children were born; (2) The problem of the “mixed blood” child that emerged in Korea in the context of miscegenation and anti-Asian immigration policies, as American servicemen sought but were denied permission from their commanding officers to marry their Korean girlfriends and bring their Korean children home; (3) The construction of the “GI Baby” in the 1950s American public’s imagination as an “orphan” in need of rescue, and the subsequent establishment of intercountry adoption as a solution to this crisis (central to this was the construction of Korea as a cruel, backwards, and racist society, the vilification and erasure of the Korean mother, and the narrative creation of a “welcome home” in the US); (4) The lives of the first generation of mixed race Koreans who were placed as adoptees in American homes in the 1950s and 1960s (at a time of Jim Crow South and when thirty states still upheld miscegenation laws); (5) The lives of the few Amerasians who remained in Korea and the legacies of the Amerasian rescue on Korea’s international adoption program (which outgrew its initial purpose and expanded to include full-blooded Korean children).

Yuri's research has received generous funding and support from various institutions including: the Social Science Research Council, the Korea Foundation, the Academy of Korean Studies, and the Fulbright Program. In 2012, Yuri received a B.A. with Honors Research Distinction in History and Korean Studies (with minors in Asian American Studies and English) from The Ohio State University. In 2013, he was awarded an MA in History from Northwestern. Yuri is a former Traveling Scholar of the University of Chicago (through the Committee on Institutional Cooperation), Visiting Scholar of Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea and has served as an oral historian on the "Muslim Chicago Oral History Project" at the Chicago History Museum.

Back to top