Sunkyu Lee is a social and cultural historian of early modern China and East Asia, working as a postdoctoral researcher on the project ‘Regionalizing Infrastructures in Chinese History’ at KU Leuven. She received Ph.D. in History (2021) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and worked as a lecturer at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University before joining the project team.
Her dissertation, “The Cartographic Construction of Borders in Ming China, 1368-1644,” investigates the role of maps in facilitating a new vision of frontier spaces that were demarcated by clear boundaries between Ming and the outside world. Comparing two geographically different frontier spaces—northern steppe and southern maritime frontiers, her research elucidates how the cartographic transformation was closely intertwined with political and intellectual endeavors to create new territorial and cultural identities in the age of increasing transregional contacts.
Sunkyu has a great interest in applying digital scholarship methods to historical research. Her current research project, titled 'Steppe, Forest, and River: Wall Histories in East Asia between the fifteenth- and seventeenth- centuries' investigates how wall-building emerged as a dominant strategy across multiple, geographically disparate frontiers of early modern East Asia. Using digital technologies, her project aims to visualize cross-regional patterns of boundary-making practices. At the same time, she is interested in illustrating how local ecology and technological knowledge interacted with material outcomes.