The Newsletter 89 Summer 2021

IBP 2021 Korean Language Edition

Total number of books submitted: 43 

Organizing Institute: Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC) 
Secretary: Jong-Cheol Kim  
Acting Secretary: Juliana Lee  
Reading Committee Members: Jae-hoon Shim and Jong-wook Hong (humanities); Yungjin Lee and In-Sung Jang (social sciences)  
Sponsor of the IBP 2021 Korean Language Edition: Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC) 

SNUAC

 

Winner

AUTHOR: 박훈 (Hun Park) 

TITLE: [메이지유신과 사대부적 정치문화] / The Meiji Revolution and the Emergence of the Political Culture of the Literati 

PUBLISHER: 서울대학교출판문화원 / Seoul: Seoul National University Press, 2020 

Modern historical studies were oriented toward Europe only, and non-European regions including Asia were represented as ahistorical. The success of the Meiji Revolution was a challenge against the idea of history that supported the modern world. Yet modernist history retained its idea of history with the ‘leaving Asia’ ideology, arguing that Japan is not part of Asia. By seeking out the embryo of capitalism or modernity from Edo-period Japan, modernist history sutured the ruptures that the Meiji Revolution made in world history. The author challenges squarely the traditional interpretation that explains the Meiji Revolution as a result of the modernist embryo and the shock of the West combined. By focusing on Confucianism, the common ideological resource of East Asia, the book illuminates how the spread of the ‘political culture of the literati’ in the Edo period prepared for the modernity of the Meiji Revolution. Unlike Joseon or China, the scholarly Confucian vision of samurai was the key driver of the Meiji Revolution. The book analyzes the ‘scholarly network’ of the samurai and the politics of public opinions including sending letters to illustrate the ‘political culture of the literati’. The author looked beyond the abstract and linear historical perspective that only saw either Japan or the world, straight at the historical world of East Asia. This monograph is a monumental achievement of Korea’s tradition of studies in Asian history. 

 

IBP 2021 Korean Language Shortlist

The History of Koryo Merchants and East Asia TradeAUTHOR: 김영제 (Youngjae Kim) 

TITLE: [고려상인과 동아시아 무역사]. 푸른역사 / The History of Koryo Merchants and East Asia Trade 

PUBLISHER: Bluehistory, 2019 

The medieval East Asian sea was a place of transnational, trans-ethnic exchanges. The author escapes from a single-state or nationalist perspective to approach the substance of the maritime trade of Koryo and Song. Firstly, the author discusses seasonal winds, ships, and the ethnic composition of merchants, as the basic matters of maritime trade. Further, the author examines the aspects of merchants who traveled between Koryo and Song and also analyzes the goods that were traded between the two countries. The analysis that Song merchants naturalized as Koryo people played a major role in maritime trade and that such a situation led to the development of Koryo’s marine transport and vessel technology verifies the transnational and trans-ethnic nature of East Asian merchants. The author, who majored in the social-economic history of Tang and Song Dynasties, reconfigured the backbone of East Asian trade history using new sources that Chinese or Japanese academia did not focus on. Such an attempt of the author supports the effort of the Korean academia to read Koryo as a society of diversity and openness and earns the significance of filling in the missing link of East Asian maritime history which has been partial to the trade between Japan and China. 

 

The Palace Built through Opium and TinAUTHOR: 강희정 (Heejung Kang) 

TITLE: [아편과 깡통의 궁전: 동남아의 근대와 페낭 화교사회]. 푸른역사 / The Palace Built through Opium and Tin: Chinese Society and Peranakan Culture in Penang, Malaysia 

PUBLISHER: Bluehistory. 2019  

This book examines the formation and development of Peranakan society in Penang, Malaysia, from the late 18th century to the early 20th century with the keywords: opium, tin, and rubber. These keywords refer to the stages of Peranakan history: ‘opium’, which built the foundation of the Peranakan society; ‘tin’, which brought prosperity to the society; and ‘rubber’, which caused its contraction in the early 20th century. First of all, this book is a political-economic history of colonial rule, which reveals the actualities of the United Kingdom’s occupation of Asia. It excellently describes how the so-called ‘age of the empire’ progressed in colonies and the peripheries beyond Europe. Secondly, this book is a history of daily lives and culture that reveals the diversity of the Peranakan culture. World history as told from a modern historical perspective was a top-down history, centering around Europe. The idea of history as suggested by this book is shaped by various classes in the global peripheries and shows the possibility of a world history that transcends the existing one. Further, the significance of this book is more than just being Korea’s first full-fledged historical study of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. Upon reading, one would look forward to the stimulation and contribution of an Asian’s view on Asia to Asian studies around the world. 

 

Hybrid Korean MedicineAUTHOR: 김종영 (Jongyoung Kim) 

TITLE: [하이브리드 한의학: 근대, 권력, 창조]. 돌베개 / Hybrid Korean Medicine 

PUBLISHER: Dolbegae, 2019 

This book is an excellent work that explains through case studies the process of Korea’s traditional medicine securing social power through institutionalization (scientification, hybridization, industrialization) in the power-landscape of Korean society dominated by modern Western medicine. The author presents his own analytical concepts (creative materialism, power-landscape, actants) based on a wide theoretical understanding of traditions and modernity and empirical research. He especially discusses the changes of Korean medicine in its modernization process through the multi-level power-landscape and vividly describes the emergence, unpredictability, and nomadism of various actants from the perspective of new materialism, post-humanism, and scientific technology. The author rejects the static dichotomy of tradition vs. modernity and offers a dynamic understanding of a hybrid modernity through the cases of modernized Korean medicine. This new perspective of modernity as open, contingent, and irregular transcends the limitations in the fragmentary understanding of modernity spurned by the two axes of dispute in the nature of Korean modernity, colonial modernization theory and internal development theory, thus presenting a unique view in the tradition-modernity debate. 

 

Lady Credit: Finance, the Hidden Agenda behind Prostitution AUTHOR: 김주희 (Joohee Kim) 

TITLE: [레이디 크레딧: 성매매, 금융의 얼굴을 하다]. 현실문화 / Lady Credit: Finance, the Hidden Agenda behind Prostitution 

PUBLISHER: Hyunsilbook, 2020 

This book is an exceptional empirical study that thoroughly explains the structural mode of the neoliberal financial economy that instigates prostitution in Korea. The author illuminates how the prostitution industry exceeds the scale of the private economic trade of prostitutes and becomes rationalized and legalized in the neoliberal financial system. She meticulously explains how the debt and subjectivization of prostitutes and the enlargement of prostitution shops are interrelated in the financial mechanism of the industry. The book boasts a practical research objective that allowed successful observation and analysis, as well as wide theoretical knowledge, thoughtful interviews, detailed narratives, and the informational strength that probed the financial economy of prostitution. It overcomes the limitations of the feminist perspective that criticizes the industry within the frameworks of human rights and ethics. Such a view only regards the nature of the prostitution industry as exploitive of women. Instead, this book offers a new perspective to reconfigure the prostitution problem as a problem of women in the era of financial capitalism.