photo: Celeste Arrington

Celeste Arrington

Korea Foundation Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs
Faculty: Full-Time
Room 465
Address: Monroe Hall
2115 G Street, NW
Phone: 202-994-6601

Areas of Expertise

Comparative politics, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, state-society relations, law and society, media and politics, Northeast Asian security

Professor Arrington specializes in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. Her research interests include civil society, social movements, democratic governance, law and society, policymaking processes, the media and politics, and qualitative methods. She is also interested in the international relations and security of Northeast Asia and transnational activism. 

Her book, Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in South Korea and Japan, was published by Cornell University Press in February 2016 and was selected to be part of the Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute publication series at Columbia University. It examines how people who claim to have suffered due to state wrongdoing or negligence hold their governments accountable and why some victim groups obtain more redress than others.

Her current research examines lawyers' roles in the growing prominence of litigation, the courts, and rights language in Japanese and especially Korean politics. She has also written about the transnational diffusion of mobilizing frames and tactics, the Japanese and Korean media environments, the effects of procedural rules on litigation as a form of political participation, and cross-national cooperation and trust-building surrounding wartime compensation lawsuits against the Japanese government.

Professor Arrington earned a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. from Princeton University. She was an advanced research fellow in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University in 2010-2011. During the 2011-2012 year, she was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She is also a member of the Mike and Maureen Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future and its U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus.

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Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley


Accidental Activists: Victims and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea, (Cornell University Press, 2016).

“Leprosy, Legal Mobilization, and the Public Sphere in Japan and South Korea,” Law & Society Review Vol. 48, no. 3 (Sept. 2014), pp. 563-593.

Classes Taught

  • PSC 2368 Politics in the Two Koreas
  • PSC 6374 Korean Politics
  • PSC 3192W Civil Society in East Asia
  • PSC 6388 States and Societies in East Asia