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Performative ethnicities : culture and class in 1930s Colonial Korea

Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies
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  • Anthropology
  • Biology
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science


Recent scholarship on the historical origins of modern Korean nationalism has successfully illustrated its ethnicist nature. The gradual shifting of the locus of Korea from the state to the ethnic people as the source of political legitimacy took place through the decades of 1900s and 1910s. The construction of ethnic nationalism in modern Korea, i.e., coinciding of ethnicity and nationalism, can be attributed to multiple factors: ethnically-based Japanese colonixation effected production of "Chosenjin," an ethnically-defined collective, "Koreans"; the Social Darwinist notion of ethnic group as a quasi-biological community of shared ancestry, a dominant contemporary discourse, was a significant force in creating and reinforcing Korean ethnicity; andnationalists also drew from the Western discourses of "cultural racism," which relied on the notions of spiritual essence and cultural objects commonly held and inherited as constituting the basis of an ethnic collective...

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