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Primitive Selves

Primitive Selves: Koreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910–1945

E. Taylor Atkins
Series: Colonialisms
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 280
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnbd0
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  • Book Info
    Primitive Selves
    Book Description:

    This remarkable book examines the complex history of Japanese colonial and postcolonial interactions with Korea, particularly in matters of cultural policy. E. Taylor Atkins focuses on past and present Japanese fascination with Korean culture as he reassesses colonial anthropology, heritage curation, cultural policy, and Korean performance art in Japanese mass media culture. Atkins challenges the prevailing view that imperial Japan demonstrated contempt for Koreans through suppression of Korean culture. In his analysis, the Japanese preoccupation with Koreana provided the empire with a poignant vision of its own past, now lost--including communal living and social solidarity--which then allowed Japanese to grieve for their former selves. At the same time, the specific objects of Japan's gaze--folk theater, dances, shamanism, music, and material heritage--became emblems of national identity in postcolonial Korea.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94768-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    While staying in Kyōto in September 2004, I went to see a pretty bad movie (which will remain nameless, but Iwillsay its main character is named Van Helsing). I’ve never been so glad I saw a bad movie in my life. One of the seemingly endless commercials preceding the werewolfery featured a percussive jam session of Japanesetaikoand Koreansamul noridrummers. All too quickly the rhythmic orgy ended, followed by an announcement for the Japan-Korea Friendship Year (Nikkan yūjōnen) scheduled for 2005. The campaign encouraged and promoted initiatives from private citizens and civic organizations for economic...

  7. CHAPTER 1 A Long Engagement
    (pp. 13-51)

    The headlines in U.S. newspapers in late August 1910 were nothing less than cataclysmic: “‘Hermit Kingdom’ Near End”; “Corea[sic]Ends Existence Soon”; “Korea as a Nation to End This Week”; “Corea No Longer a Nation”; “Korea Now Japanese.”¹ Reporting the dramatic events of the week of August 22–29, American news stories adopted a tone of resignation, finality, and inevitability. “Throughout the negotiations, the mass of the Koreans have been kept in entire ignorance of what has been going on,” theNew York Timesstated. “It is not believed, however, that annexation by Japan will involve disturbances in any...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Ethnography as Self-Reflection: Japanese Anthropology in Colonial Korea
    (pp. 52-101)

    Ethnography is as old as empire. Whenever ambitious civilizations pushed their boundaries outwards, encompassing smaller polities and encountering less acquiescent populations along their borders, descriptions of unfamiliar peoples and their customs seemed imperative. Ethnography’s value to empire was both practical and ideological. Ethnographic reconnaissance could be beneficial, if not indispensable, to the conquest and pacification of targeted regions. Consequently, imperial chroniclers from antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the early modern era left substantial ethnographic corpuses, which sometimes constitute the only records of nomadic, preliterate peoples, those who were literally and figuratively at the margins of imperial states. Yet the principal...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Curating Koreana: The Management of Culture in Colonial Korea
    (pp. 102-146)

    In its 1935 retrospective, self-servingly entitledThriving Chosen: A Survey of Twenty-five Years’ Administration, the Government-General of Chōsen boasted of several accomplishments and ongoing projects designed to secure the hitherto neglected cultural heritage of Korea for future generations. According to the report, Korea’s material legacy was in tatters until the GGC intervened. “Very ancient literature scattered all over Chosen, in records and books, were[sic]collected for the preservation of Korean culture and civilization,” and then assembled at Keijō Imperial University. Emphasizing the world-historical value of this effort, the document stated, “Here also may be seen the old Korean prints...

  10. CHAPTER 4 The First K-Wave: Koreaphilia in Imperial Japanese Popular Culture
    (pp. 147-186)

    On November 25, 2004, Korean actor Pae Yong-jun stepped off a plane at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, into the collective arms of some five thousand screaming Japanese female fans. The male lead in the television serialWinter Sonata (Kyŏul yŏnga; Fuyu no sonata), a smash hit in Japan, Pae’s hunky sensitivity placed him at the crest of the so-called Korea Wave (Hallyu; Kanryū) that swept Japanese popular culture in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In hopes of landing a Korean “Seoul-mate,” thousands of Japanese consumers started taking Korean language classes, signing up for dating services that promised to introduce...

  11. Epilogue: Postcolonial Valorizations
    (pp. 187-200)

    On July 9, 1987, on Seoul’s City Hall Plaza, a Korean shaman performed the “bridge rite” (tari kut) for the souls of two students killed in scuffles with police. The souls of Yi Han-yŏl and Pak Chong-ch’ŏl trod a bridge of white cloth (siwang tari)—the passage through Buddhist hell—which was then rent to prevent their return to torment the living. Thus pacified, they could now safely serve as martyrs to the cause of true democracy in the Republic of Korea.¹ Student groups and sympathetic activists staged other rites and funereal dances during Korea’s hot summer of 1987, to...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 201-234)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 235-256)
  14. Index
    (pp. 257-262)