David K. Kim

Professor of Religious Studies
Chair of the Religious Studies Department, Spring 2017
Associate Professor in American Studies

Joined Connecticut College: 2003

On sabbatical Fall 2016

B.A., University of Rochester
M. Div. & Th. D., Harvard University


Philosophy of religion

Critical theory

Political theory

Modern and contemporary religious thought

Human agency, moral philosophy, and ethics

Religious theory

Asian American studies

David Kyuman Kim has written on freedom and agency in modernity and post-modernity, Asian American diasporas, and the Asian American religious experience.

Kim joined the faculty of Connecticut College in 2003. He has also taught at Harvard University and Brown University, most recently in 2009 as inaugural Visiting Professor in the Humanities at the Cogut Center for the Humanities.

Oxford University Press published his first book Melancholic Freedom: Agency and the Spirit of Politics.

The Philosophy of Religion section of the American Academy of Religion hosted a highlighted panel on Melancholic Freedom during the 2008 annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion. The panel featured comments by Judith Butler, Tavis Smiley, and Cornel West, with a response by Kim. Kim has discussed the book during an appearance on The Tavis Smiley Show as seen on YouTube.

His current book project is The Public Life of Love, an examination of the status of love in politics, public life, religion, and the arts. He is co-editor, with Philip Gorski, John Torpey, and Jonathan VanAntwerpen of the forthcoming collection The Post-Secular in Question (New York University Press). With John L. Jackson, Jr., Kim is co-editing a special issue on race, religion, and democracy for The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Kim is also co-editor, with John L. Jackson, Jr. and Rudy V. Busto, of the new book Stanford University Press book series RaceReligion.

In July 2005, Kim was appointed the inaugural director of the Connecticut College's sixth academic center, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE). In April 2008, CCSRE sponsored a symposium, "Race, Space and Memory" at Connecticut College. Visit the CCSRE website for full details.

In 2004-2005, Kim organized, with Julie Rivkin (Department of English), the year-long colloquium at Connecticut College, "Theory in Transition." Speakers included Homi Bhabha (Harvard University), Craig Calhoun (New York University and the Social Science Research Council), Thomas Dumm (Amherst College), Sharon Holland (Northwestern University), and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl (Columbia University). The Colloquium included faculty seminars, a public lecture series, and the upper-level seminar, co-taught with Professor Rivkin, "Critique, Power, and the Other: Theory across the Disciplines."

Collaborating in 2005-2006 with Larry Vogel (Department of Philosophy), Kim put together another year-long colloquium at the College called "Living a Moral Life," with guest appearances by Kathleen Cleaver (Yale University and Emory University), Romand Coles (Duke University), Rebecca Hamilton (Harvard University and the Genocide Intervention Network), Joshua Rubenstein (Amnesty International), and Slavoj Zizek (University of Ljubljana).

Among the events organized by Professor Kim and the CCSRE for 2005-2006 was a series of guest lectures in the Theorizing Race & Ethnicity course and a two-day Symposium on Cornel West's "Democracy Matters" held on April 21-22, 2006. View video streams from the Symposium.

Kim has been in creative collaboration with his Connecticut College colleague and world-renowned choreographer David Dorfman. He served as a creative consultant for David Dorfman Dance’s disavowal, a piece inspired by the life and legacy of the abolitionist John Brown. Kim and Dorfman are currently working together on a new piece, "Prophets of Funk/Dance to the Music," an exploration of the music of Sly and the Family Stone and issues of the prophetic and funk. Prophets of Funk premiered at Connecticut College on February 4th, 2011, and went on to tour at venues throughout the United States, including the Institute for Contemporary Art, Jacob’s Pillow, and Lincoln Center Outdoors. Kim also serves as scholar-in-residence for David Dorfman Dance.

In the spring of 2009, Kim served as the Acting Program Director of the Programs in Religion and the Public Sphere at the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). He continues his work with the SSRC as Senior Advisor and also the Editor-at-Large of the SSRC’s blog on secularism, religion, and public life, The Immanent Frame.

An interview with Kim, “Agency as a Vocation,” was featured on the homepage of the SSRC’s website in March 2009. In May 2009, Kim helped to launch the discussion series “These things are old” on Obama, civic virtue, and debates about American common good on The Immanent Frame. With an introduction written by Kim, the series features essays by William Ayers, Lawrie Balfour, Romand Coles, Gary Dorrien, Todd Gitlin, Jennifer Herdt, Martin Marty, David Morgan, Ann Pelligrini and Janet Jakobsen, Jon Shields, George Shulman, and Hent de Vries, among others.

In 2009, the SSRC’s Program on Religion and International Affairs commissioned Kim to conduct the dialogue series Rites and Responsibilities, a forum on authority, accountability, sovereignty, and the public life of religion in an age of globalization. Participants in the forum include Richard Barrett (the United Nations Al-Quaida-Taliban Monitoring Team), Noam Chomsky (MIT), Jean Comaroff (University of Chicago), Paul Farmer (Partners in Health and Harvard University), Robert Hefner (Boston University), Sidney Jones (International Crisis Group), Sayeed Naqvi (Observer Research Foundation), Michael Sandel (Harvard University), Jeffrey Stout (Princeton University), Tariq Ramadan (Oxford University), and Cornel West (Princeton University). The Rites and Responsibilities dialogues are available on The Immanent Frame.

Kim is a member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Political Science Association, the American Studies Association, the Asian Pacific American Religions Research Initiative, and the Association for Asian American Studies. He is on the editorial board of the political theory journal theory & event, and also serves on the boards of David Dorfman Dance and the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University. Kim has been elected to the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion (2011-2013).

Since 1989, Kim has sung with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

At Connecticut College, Professor Kim teaches the following courses:
Introduction to the Study of Religion
The Christian Traditions
Theories of Religion
Religion and the Discontents of Modernity
Religion, Memory, Tradition
Religion and the Spirit of Politics
Religion Expressions of Everyday Life (with David Dorfman)

Visit the religious studies department website.

"To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion — all in one." - John Ruskin

Contact David K. Kim

Mailing Address

David K. Kim
Connecticut College
Box #5395
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320


204 Blaustein Humanities