Shoan Yin Cheung is an Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies in the Department of Cultural and Religious Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Trained as an anthropologist of medicine and technology, she has engaged in ethnographic research to examine health and society, gender, bodies, and capitalism in East Asia, particularly in contemporary Japan. Her academic papers have been published in journals including Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. In addition, her forthcoming book Fixing Fertility: Unlocking Labor in Japan will examine the intersection of hormonal thinking and economic forces in Japanese society.
Her recent teaching focuses on the intersections of science, technology, medicine, and culture, with undergraduate and graduate courses including “Body, Politics, and Representations,” “Interdisciplinary Study of Technoscience Culture,” and “The Body in Culture and Art.” They examine theories about objectivity, identity, infrastructure, and modernity to help bring about understandings beyond the conventional humanities, social sciences, and STEM. She has also taught courses in the Medical Humanities that examine how legacies of colonialism and imperialism structure inequalities in global health and society, as well as courses on the politics and technologies of population and birth control. She is deeply interested in how culture informs public life and previously taught policy research in Washington, DC.
Originally from Canada, Shoan Yin pursued her studies in the US and crossed an international border every day to do so. This early experience navigating frictions in identity along the lines of race, class, gender, and nationality at the border sparked her intellectual interests in how populations become legible through state infrastructure, which has led to a global research career. In addition to earning degrees from Cornell, she has studied at Stanford University’s Inter-University Center in Yokohama, Japan. Recently, she was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Williams College in Massachusetts, USA, and at the Centre for Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong.
Specializing in empirical approaches to cultural studies, her ethnographic research has focused on urban Tokyo, where she developed her interest in emerging uses of the hormonal birth control as a “therapeutic” for preserving labor power in a Japan of declining fertility. Her book will show how the birth control pill, long banned in Japan, now redefines population control by focusing on labor, not birth. The book will provide a new framework that connects scholarship on the biomedical regulation of reproductive bodies with intersectional feminist critiques of how gendered labor underwrites unequal accumulation in late capitalist societies. In addition to completing her work on birth control in Japan, she is now starting a research project on Japanese global health ventures in Southeast Asia.
Shoan Yin’s research has attracted support and funding from around the world, including the National Science Foundation (US), the Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the Nippon Foundation, and the D. Kim Foundation for the History of Science and Technology in East Asia. She has been invited to speak at conferences and to audiences in Canada, Japan, Singapore, and the US.