Celeste Arrington

Celeste Arrington

Celeste Arrington

Director, M.A. Asian Studies Program; 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, lawyers, the media and politics, and qualitative methods. She is also interested in the international relations and security of Northeast Asia and transnational activism.

Her first book was Accidental Activists: Victim Movements and Government Accountability in Japan and South Korea (Cornell, 2016). She has published articles in Comparative Political Studies, Law & Society Review, Journal of East Asian Studies, Law & Policy, Asian Survey, and elsewhere. With Patricia Goedde, she co-edited Rights Claiming in South Korea (Cambridge, 2021). Her current book project analyzes the legalistic turn in Korean and Japanese governance through paired case studies related to tobacco control and disability rights. 

Her research has received support from numerous fellowships and programs. She is a core faculty of the GW Institute for Korean Studies (GWIKS) and President of the Association for Korean Political Studies. GW’s Office of the Vice President for Research awarded her the 2021 Early Career Research Scholar Award.

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

Advanced research fellow, in the Program on U.S.-Japan Relations at Harvard University (2010-2011)

Member, School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (2011-2012)

Member of the Mansfield Foundation’s U.S.-Japan Network for the Future and its U.S.-Korea Scholar-Policymaker Nexus

Fellow, Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University (2017-2018)

Social Science Research Council Fellow (2020-2021)

Early Career Research Scholar Award, GW's Office of the Vice President for Research (2021)

Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (2022-2023)

Early Career Research Scholar Award, GW's Office of the Vice President for Research (2021)

Fellowship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany (2022-2023)

Distinguished Article Award, 2023–Asian Law and Society Association

Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

MPhil, 2004, University of Cambridge (Trinity College)

AB summa cum laude, 2003, Princeton University

  • PSC 2368 Politics in the Two Koreas
  • PSC 3192W: Protest and Participation in East Asia
  • PSC 6374 Korean Politics
  • PSC 6375 States and Societies in East Asia
  • PSC 8388 Social Movements

"Regulating smoking in Japan: from manners to rules," International Journal of Asian Studies (2024): 1-22. 


Knowledge Production through Legal Mobilization: Environmental Activism Against the U.S. Military Bases in East Asia,” with Claudia Junghyun Kim, Law & Society Review 57, no. 2 (June 2023): 162-188.


Policy Change in the Shadow of the Paralympics: Disability Activism and Accessibility Reforms in Japan,” with Mark R. Bookman, Japanese Studies 43, no. 1 (March 2023): 27-47.


Disabled People’s Fight for Rights in South Korea and Japan,” Current History 120, no. 827 (Sept. 2021): 233-239.


Insider Activists and Secondhand Smoke Countermeasures in Japan,” Asian Survey 61, no. 4 (July/August 2021): 559-590.


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, 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.