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Sheila Miyoshi Jager (born 1963) is an American historian. She is a Professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College, author of two books on Korea and the co-editor of a third book on Asian nations in the post-Cold War era. She is a well-known historian of Korea and East Asia, and since 2017 has been known for having had a romantic relationship with, and marriage proposals from, Barack Obama during the 1980's.

Early life

Sheila Miyoshi Jager was born in 1963.[1] She is of Dutch and Japanese ancestry.[2] She graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984.[3] She earned a Master of Arts degree from Middlebury College in 1985, and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1994.[3]

Career

Jager is a Professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College.[3] She is the author of several books about East Asian history.[4]

Her first book, Narratives of Nation Building in Korea: A Genealogy of Patriotism, was published in 2003. In it, Jager analyzes Korea through the axes of history, gender, and nationalism, by using both theory and data.[5] She looks at male identity through the figures of Shin Chaeho and Yi Kwang-su between 1910 and 1945 in the first part; the female body as a metonymy for the Korean body politic in the second part; and the leaders of South Korea (Park Chung-hee, Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Tae-woo) and North Korea (Kim Il-sung) in the third part.[5][6] In a review for The Journal of Asian Studies, Roy Richard Grinker, a Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University, called it "a coherent, well-argued, and well-researched study of Korea nationalism", but he deplored, "This book is not long, yet the scope is so extensive that it demands more detailed and wide-ranging analyses that might complicate her arguments."[5] He also criticized her use of Korean literature as reductive.[5] In a review for Pacific Affairs, Chiho Sawada also criticized the book for being too short (only 140 pages), but he added that it was "an excellent text for courses on not only Korea but postcolonial histories and national/gender identities."[6] In a review for the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Swiss academic Martina Deuchler called it "a sophisticated and well-written study," although she warned "the book is not an easy read."[7]

Her second book, Ruptured Histories: War, Memory and the Post-Cold War in Asia, co-edited with Rana Mitter, was published in 2007. It is a collection of essays by various scholars about the state of Asia since the end of the Cold War.[8] In a review for The China Quarterly, Parks M. Coble, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, concludes that, contrary to Europe, there is no common thread between the Asian nations analyzed in this volume.[8] Nevertheless, in Pacific Affairs, Associate Professor Kerry Smith of Brown University suggests reading the entire book from cover to cover, not just certain chapters relevant to one's personal interests in specific nations.[9] Reviewing it for The Journal of Asian Studies, Erik Harms, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University (then at Duke University), described it as "an insightful collection of expertly researched and theoretically informed case studies from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam."[10] He also noted, "We see how apparently local developments emerge within broader international, regional, and global contexts."[10] In The Journal of Japanese Studie

Sheila Miyoshi Jager was born in 1963.[1] She is of Dutch and Japanese ancestry.[2] She graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1984.[3] She earned a Master of Arts degree from Middlebury College in 1985, and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 1994.[3]

Career

Jager is a Professor of East Asian Studies at Oberlin College.[3] She is the author of several books about East Asian history.[4]

Her first book, Narratives of Nation Building in Korea: A Genealogy of Patriotism, was published in 2003. In it, Jager analyzes Korea through the axes of history, gender, and nationalism, by using both theory and data.[5] She looks at male identity through the figures of Shin Chaeho and Yi Kwang-su between 1910 and 1945 in the first part; the female body as a metonymy for the Korean body politic in the second part; and the leaders of South Korea ([3] She is the author of several books about East Asian history.[4]

Her first book, Narratives of Nation Building in Korea: A Genealogy of Patriotism, was published in 2003. In it, Jager analyzes Korea through the axes of history, gender, and nationalism, by using both theory and data.[5] She looks at male identity through the figures of Shin Chaeho and Yi Kwang-su between 1910 and 1945 in the first part; the female body as a metonymy for the Korean body politic in the second part; and the leaders of South Korea (Park Chung-hee, Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Tae-woo) and North Korea (Kim Il-sung) in the third part.[5][6] In a review for The Journal of Asian Studies, Roy Richard Grinker, a Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University, called it "a coherent, well-argued, and well-researched study of Korea nationalism", but he deplored, "This book is not long, yet the scope is so extensive that it demands more detailed and wide-ranging analyses that might complicate her arguments."[5] He also criticized her use of Korean literature as reductive.[5] In a review for Pacific Affairs, Chiho Sawada also criticized the book for being too short (only 140 pages), but he added that it was "an excellent text for courses on not only Korea but postcolonial histories and national/gender identities."[6] In a review for the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Swiss academic Martina Deuchler called it "a sophisticated and well-written study," although she warned "the book is not an easy read."[7]

Her second book, Ruptured Histories: War, Memory and the Post-Cold War in Asia, co-edited with Rana Mitter, was published in 2007. It is a collection of essays by various scholars about the state of Asia since the end of the Cold War.[8] In a review for The China Quarterly, Parks M. Coble, a professor of history at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, concludes that, contrary to Europe, there is no common thread between the Asian nations analyzed in this volume.[8] Nevertheless, in Pacific Affairs, Associate Professor Kerry Smith of Brown University suggests reading the entire book from cover to cover, not just certain chapters relevant to one's personal interests in specific nations.[9] Reviewing it for The Journal of Asian Studies, Erik Harms, an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University (then at Duke University), described it as "an insightful collection of expertly researched and theoretically informed case studies from Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam."[10] He also noted, "We see how apparently local developments emerge within broader international, regional, and global contexts."[10] In The Journal of Japanese Studies, Christopher Goto-Jones of Leiden University highlights Mitter and Jager's "attempt to wrestle the question of war memory away from its near exclusive focus on the singular rupture represented by Japan's defeat in 1945"; instead, they attempt to show how "the continuously shifting international environment impacts the formation (and utility)[clarification needed] of national (and transnational and subnational) narratives."[11]

Her third book, Brothers at War: The Unending Conflict in Korea, was published in 2013. In a review for Foreign Affairs, Andrew J. Nathan, a Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, writes that Jager suggests atrocities were committed not only by the North Korean Army, but also by the South Korean Army and the United States Army during the Korean War, a conflict which formally ended in 1953 but has never been fully resolved.[12] She also suggests that North Korea may have to become a province of China to survive economically.[12]

In the 1980s, Jager lived with Barack Obama, then a community organizer in Chicago.[13][2] In winter 1986, Obama asked her parents if he could marry her, but they objected.[13] Shortly after he entered the Harvard Law School, Obama proposed to Jager a second time, but she rejected him.[2][4] Their relationship was only made public in May 2017, several months after the end of Obama's two-term presidency, in David Garrow's Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama.[4]

Jager married Jiyul Kim, a U.S. Army veteran and history professor at Oberlin College. They have four children and reside in Ohio.

Works