Celeste Arrington

Celeste Arrington

Celeste Arrington

Korea Foundation Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs

Full-time Faculty


Office Phone: (202) 994-6601

Professor Arrington specializes in comparative politics, with a regional focus on the Koreas and Japan. Her research interests include law and social change, governance, civil society, social movements, policy-making 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 research has also been published in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Pacific Affairs, Asian Survey, and the Washington Post, among other outlets.

Professor Arrington is currently writing a book analyzing lawyers' roles in policy-making and the growing prominence of litigation, the courts, and rights language in Japanese and Korean politics. The book, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press's Studies in Law and Society, focuses on policies related to persons with disabilities and tobacco control. Other ongoing projects explore legal institutional change, how activist lawyers organize, disability-related protests, and litigation as a form of political participation in Korea and Japan.

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. In 2017-2018, she was a fellow at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University. She was named a Social Science Research Council Research Fellow in 2020-2021.

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

  • PSC 2368 Politics in the Two Koreas
  • PSC 3192W: Protest and Participation in East Asia
  • PSC 6374 Korean Politics
  • PSC 6388 States and Societies in East Asia
  • PSC 8388 Social Movements

Insider Activists and Secondhand Smoke Countermeasures in Japan,” Asian Survey 61, no. 4 (July/August 2021).

Rights Claiming in South Korea (co-edited with Patricia Goedde). Cambridge University Press, 2021.

“Legal Mobilization and the Transformation of State-Society Relations in the Realm of Disability Policy in Korea,” in Civil Society and the State in Post High Growth East Asia, edited by David Chiavacci, Simona Grano, and Julia Obinger (Amsterdam University Press, 2020): 297-323.

“How to Analyze Data: Qualitative Content and Frame Analysis,” in Studying Japan: Research Design, Fieldwork, and Methods, edited by Nora Kottmann and Cornelia Reiher (Nomos Verlag, 2020): 349-362.

Cause Lawyering and Movement Tactics: Disability Rights Movements in South Korea and Japan,” with Yong-il Moon, Law & Policy 42, no. 1 (Jan. 2020).

The Mechanisms behind Litigation’s ‘Radiating Effects’: Historical Grievances against Japan,” Law & Society Review 53, no. 1 (March 2019): 6-40.

Hiding in Plain Sight: Pseudonymity and Participation in Legal Mobilization,” Comparative Political Studies (online first May 10, 2018), 52, no. 2 (Feb. 2019): 310-341.

The Mutual Constitution of the Abductions and North Korean Human Rights Issues in Japan and Internationally,” Pacific Affairs 91, no. 3 (September 2018): 471-498.

Linking Abductee Activism and North Korean Human Rights Advocacy in Japan and Abroad,” in Andrew Yeo and Danielle Chubb, eds. North Korean Human Rights: Activists and Networks (Cambridge University Press, June 2018): 85-108.

"The Access Paradox: Media Environment Diversity and Coverage of Activist Groups in Japan and Korea." Journal of East Asian Studies 17:1 (2017): 69-93.

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.

“The Abductions Issue in Japan and South Korea: Ten Years after Pyongyang’s Admission.” International Journal of Korean Studies 17:2 (2013): 108-139.

“The Politics of NGOs and Democratic Governance in South Korea and Japan,” (with Lee Sook-Jong). Pacific Focus 23:1 (2008): 75-96.

“Democratization and Changing Anti-American Sentiments in South Korea.” (with Oh Chang Hun). Asian Survey 47:2 (2007): 327-350.

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley