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A Sentimental Journey: Mapping the Interior Frontier of Japanese Settlers in Colonial Korea

Journal of Asian Studies
Aug 2011

“A Sentimental Journey: Mapping the Interior Frontier of Japanese Settlers in Colonial Korea.” Journal of Asian Studies 70, no. 3 (August 2011). 

Reprinted in Hyung-Gu Lynn, ed., Critical Readings on the Colonial Period of Korea, 1910-1945 (Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2013); Owen White, ed., The Rise and Fall of Modern Empires, Vol. 1: Social Organization (Ashgate, 2013). 

This article explores the role of affect and sentiment in shaping cross-cultural encounters in late colonial Korea, as seen and experienced through the eyes of Japanese men and women who grew up in Seoul. By interweaving the oral and written testimonies of former settlers who came of age on the peninsula between the late 1920s and the end of colonial rule in 1945, the paper attempts to reconstruct their emotional journey into adulthood as young offspring of empire: specifically, how they apprehended colonialism, what they felt when encountering different segments of the Korean population, and in what ways their understanding of the world and themselves changed as a result of these interactions. Focusing on the intimate and everyday zones of contact in family and school life, this study more broadly offers a way to understand colonialism without reducing complex local interactions to abstract mechanisms of capital and bureaucratic rule.

* Nomination by Journal of Asian Studies for the Robert F. Heizer Award (American Society for Ethnohistory) for the best article in the field of Ethnohistory