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David J. Kim

Associate Professor of Anthropology

David Kim’s research in cultural anthropology focuses on magic and divination in contemporary South Korea, ranging from shamans, horoscopic fortune tellers, and the diverse practices in between. Though grounded in South Korea, his work speaks to a body of anthropological work on economies of ritual, leisure, and gaming, as they relate to market forces, globalization, and neoliberalism. He enjoys teaching topics such as magic, ritual, and religion—areas that have had long standing conceptual traditions in anthropology—in theoretically challenging and creative ways. The study of religion as a connection to otherness, or alterity, is an area of particular interest, especially as it intersects with conceptualizations of the virtual and affective. 

More About Me

David J. Kim received his doctorate in sociocultural anthropology from Columbia University in 2009. He also holds an MA in performance studies from NYU and a BA in theater and dance from Trinity College in Connecticut.

Research Interests

Capitalism and everyday life, magic, religion, Marxism, critical and poststructural theory, affect, psychoanalysis, performance studies, queer theory, technology and new media, anthropology of the senses.

Representative Courses

Magic Witchcraft and Modernity
Anthropology of Religion
Myth Ritual and Performance
Media Technology and Perception


2019. “Divination and its Potential Futures: Sensation, Scripts, and the Virtual in South Korean Eight-Character Fortune Telling,” Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art, and Belief Vol. 15 (5)

2019. “Four Pillars and Four Diviners: Fate, Fluidity, and Invention in Horoscopic Saju Divination in Contemporary South Korea,” Journal of Korean Religions Vol. 10 (2)

2015. “Visions and Stones: Spirit Matters and the Charm of Small Things in South Korean Shamanic Rock Divination,” Anthropology and Humanism Vol. 40 (1)

2013.  Critical Mediations: Haewŏn Chinhon Kut, a Shamanic Ritual for Korean ‘Comfort Women,’” Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique Vol. 21 (3)