Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Chosŏn Industrial Exposition of 1915
by Park, Young-Sin, Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2019, 488; 13862952
Abstract (Summary)

The Chosŏn Industrial Exposition of 1915 took place at a moment of rapid modernization and industrialization in Korea that began with the Japanese annexation of 1910. As an unprecedented public event in the emergence of modern Korea, the Exposition introduced the Korean public to modern forms of mass culture and spectacle. This dissertation examines how the Exposition shaped the emerging concept of modern Korea and how it functioned as a specific cultural machinery, interpellating a new kind of national subject.

Under the influence of the Korean nationalist historiography that developed in the 1990s, at the time of the controversy over the demolition of Japanese colonial buildings, the literature on Korean expositions has focused almost exclusively on the colonial political context of the 1915 Exposition and its function as political propaganda for Japanese colonial rule. This dissertation seeks to go beyond the existing literature by exploring the Exposition as a cultural machinery whose meaning and effects are not reducible to its manifest political purpose. Based on a detailed analysis of the structure of the 1915 Exposition, the dissertation examines how, as a kind of training machine, the Exposition captured and positioned visitors as the subjects of its new national spectacle, addressing them as the modern subjects of a new national identity.

The dissertation draws on the premise that the 1915 Exposition was an economic, political and cultural battlefield across which different visions of industrialization, modernization, civilization and global capitalism fought for ascendancy in the shaping of a new national identity. In order to understand the larger context of the Exposition, my study analyzes how the global phenomena of capitalist modernization affected the specific locale of Korea and how the concept of the international exposition came to gain acceptance from the Korean people as one of the central symbols of modernization and civilization. The dissertation also examines the processes of negotiation and conflict that surrounded the drive to modernization and the shaping of a homogenized national identity in modern Korea.

The principal goal of the dissertation is to make a close analysis of the 1915 Exposition itself, as a cultural machinery and technological spectacle that produced specific meanings and sought to shape a new national subject, under pressure from colonial modernization and global capitalism. I seek to show what is unique in the Korean setting by analyzing in detail the actual workings of the Exposition. Through this, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of an understudied era in Korean cultural history: the period of ten years following the 1910 Japanese annexation of Korea, usually titled the “Dark Period.” By considering the relation of the Exposition to the reorganization and functional redirection of urban space, it is also hoped that the dissertation provides a foundation for assessing the specific contribution of Korea to the development of the international exposition in East Asia.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Tagg, John
Commitee: Um, Nancy, Smart, Pamela, Kim, Sonja
School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Department: Art History
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 81/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Museum studies, Asian Studies
Keywords: Colonialism and modernization, East Asian museums and exhibitions, International expositions, Modern Japanese art and exhibition, Modern Korean art and exhibition, Modern subjects
Publication Number: 13862952
ISBN: 9781085575058
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