Governing Modernity and Everyday Life in Colonial Korea
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CitationCho, Yaejin. 2017. Governing Modernity and Everyday Life in Colonial Korea. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe primary aim of this dissertation is to show how the colonial state’s top-down social management policy of moral suasion, which received the support of civil society, including the Korean press, the Korean middle class, settlers, and Westerners, was experienced by the Korean populace at large. I peek into everyday realms of colonial society, such as homes, bathhouses, and public streets, as well as the minds of ordinary Koreans, Westerners, and Japanese settlers, whose attitudes, feelings, and thoughts have been captured in history. The dissertation examines three moral suasion campaigns: one that targeted urban slum residents called “mud-hut dwellers,” the colonial bathing campaign that constructed public bathhouses across the peninsula and sought to modernize Korean bathing, and finally, colonial animal campaigns that sought to transform how Koreans conceptualized animals, including the animal protection movement. By examining the bottom-up responses to the campaigns, I study how grand colonial policies actually affected the everyday life of the ordinary person.
In historiography, while social policies of the Japanese colonial state in the peninsula have been studied in detail, the bottom-up responses from society have not been adequately examined. This is especially true for the moral suasion campaigns that the colonial state promoted in conjunction with civil society, which aimed to reform the Korean masses. Hence, the actual day-to-day interaction between the promoters of moral suasion and the Korean recipients, and how the policies actually crystallized in the everyday realm of colonial Korea, beg further attention.
The moral suasion campaigns generated a wide range of responses from the Korean populace, which allows us to reconsider the true effects of colonial policies and colonial modernity. They also shed light on the lives of the Korean lower class, as well as tensions and divisions within Korean society, in addition to cross-cultural encounters in daily life that created uncomfortable moments. The unruliness in colonial society and the ineffectiveness of the moral suasion campaigns were not always caused by nationalism or resistance to colonial rule per se. But rather, they were instances in which the Korean populace believed that the ideas of modernity put forth by the campaigns were incompatible with their daily lives. These factors led colonial modernity to be experienced differently by each individual, and state intrusion into daily life being limited in scope.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364827
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