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Office of News and Information
Johns Hopkins University
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February 3, 1998
CONTACT: Leslie Rice

Hopkins Anthropologist Studies Love

With Valentine's Day around the corner, the nation will once again spend a day focused on matters of the heart. If you are looking for an interesting source for an article about romantic love, one of the most popular courses at The Johns Hopkins University this semester is called "The Anthropology of Love," taught by anthropologist Sonia Ryang.

Anthropology has a rich tradition in the study of family relationships, courtships and kinships. But what anthropologists have typically been shy to address, says Ryang, is the study of romantic love. By looking at the works of anthropologists and social historians, Ryang's course addresses the notion of "falling in love."

She asks if romantic love is universal or culturally conditioned?

Is the fixation in our nation with falling in love the by-product of living in an increasingly technical and often lonely society?

Or is falling in love an innate quality of the human spirit, which exists whether in a primitive society, a politically oppressive regime or an unyieldingly harsh living climate? Ryang doesn't attempt to answer these questions entirely but tries to understand romantic love from an anthropological perspective.

Sonia Ryang is a graduate of University of Cambridge and University of Tokyo. She is the author of numerous articles and essays on subjects including ethnicity in Japan, Koreans living in Japan, and gender and immigration issues. She is the author of the book, North Koreans in Japan: Language, Ideology and Identity (1997 Westview Press).

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