Thanks to a MITACS Globalink Research Award, Anson Au has been spending the summer of 2018 in South Korea conducting research into attitudes towards plastic surgery. Designed to encourage international collaboration, the MITACS Globalink Research Award provides funding for students in Canada to conduct 12–24-week research projects at universities overseas. Anson used his award to travel to Korea to work under the supervision of Professor Yoosik Youm at Yonsei University.
The resources at Mitacs Globalink allowed Anson to conduct novel research on plastic surgery in South Korea, a publicly significant, but broadly understudied, phenomenon in one of the most advanced countries in East Asia. Plastic surgery has grown extensively around the globe, particularly in South Korea, where more surgeries occur per capita than any other country in the world. At the same time, modern plastic surgery practices have expanded their reach to include more ways of modifying body parts and colonizing new parts hitherto immutable. Anson’s research seeks to understand the cultural and institutional forces that dictate standards of good taste in designing and deciding on plastic surgery modifications; how the interpretive relations between the body, appearance, and persona within the positionality of the self are altered by growing trends in plastic surgery; how plastic surgery renders individuals commensurable, if at all; and how have other domains of social life been altered by the growing popularity, reach, and commonness of plastic surgery.
Anson used funds from the Mitacs award to travel to Korea and conduct interviews with practitioners and consumers to learn about the ways in which they understand plastic surgery.