Dr Derek Kramer

School of East Asian Studies

Lecturer in Korean Studies

Photo profile of Dr. Derek Kramer
Profile picture of Photo profile of Dr. Derek Kramer

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Dr Derek Kramer
School of East Asian Studies
Jessop West
1 Upper Hanover Street
S3 7RA

Dr Derek Kramer’s research and teaching focuses on modern Korea and the history of science, technology, and infrastructure in twentieth century East Asia. By way of a comparative and complementary approach, his work aims to situate both the peninsula and the region within the broader dynamics of global history. At present, Derek is working on a book manuscript that explores the cultural and intellectual responses to the atomic age in early Cold War North and South Korea.

Prior to taking up his position in Sheffield, Dr Kramer held research posts at Korea University, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He obtained his degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Toronto in 2021. Portions of Derek’s research have appeared in outlets like the Journal of Asian Studies, the International Review of Social History, and positions: Asia critique. 


BA (Calvin College)

MA (University of Toronto)

PhD (University of Toronto)

Research interests

Dr Kramer’s present research explores what happens when ideas about political liberation and scientific revolution intersect. His ongoing book project, entitled “A New Kind of Energy: the Atomic Age in the Cold War Koreas,” is a comparative examination of post-1945 North and South Korean encounters with the promises and perils of a new atomic age. The study traces the conceptual foundations of a postcolonial politics that emerged across the Cold War divide. “A New Kind of Energy” examines early encounters with the atomic age across colonial, socialist, and liberal renditions of the Korean nation.

Rather than reduce the question of nuclear proliferation to the contemporary whims of political leadership or the contours of international exchange, the project focuses on the social and ideological dimensions of science in the nation building process. With implications for the broader history of global nuclear proliferation, this is the first study to comparatively explore the sociopolitical character of atomic science in two mirroring postcolonial states

Teaching activities

Dr Kramer has experience in teaching courses like the “History of Infrastructure, Industry, and Innovation in East Asia,” “The Japanese Modern Empire, “The Cold War in East Asia, and “Modern Korean History.”


Kramer, D (2023) “An Atomic Age Unleashed: Emancipation and Erasure in Early Korean Accounts of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings.” Journal of Asian Studies 82(2): 144–162.

Kramer, D (2022) “‘We Go on Our Own Boats!’: Korean Migrants and the Politics of Transportation Infrastructure in the Japanese Empire.” The International Review of Social History 67(2): 295-316.

Kramer, D (2021) “‘He Rests from His Labors’: Racialized Recreation and Missionary Science in Colonial Korea.” positions: asia critique 29(2): 347-372.