My dissertation explores women's use of the right to petition the state to redress grievances. Chosŏn Korea (1392–1910) was distinct from other East Asian states in that its legal structures allowed subjects of both genders and all social statuses to file petitions directly to the sovereign. Even more amazingly, the state recognized the legal capacity of female subjects, including the lowborn such as slaves. These practices seem to conflict with the Confucian gender norms and the hereditary status system that restricted female subjects' activity outside their domestic space. Conventional wisdom suggests that the adoption of Neo-Confucianism during the Chosen dynasty deprived women of their economic and social privileges. Despite these adverse effects on women evident by the mid-seventeenth century, this study shows that women actively voiced grievances on nearly every imaginable concern from property ownership to the corruption of magistrates. Although the Confucianization process deprived women of certain privileges, they exercised the right to petition throughout the 518 years of the dynasty. In this study, I argue that gender in the Chosŏn was constructed through constant negotiation between women and the state through petitioning in legally sanctioned public spaces. Further, it demonstrates that the essence of the judicial system in the Chosŏn was reflected in the state's effort to relieve any subject's emotions of wŏn that were provoked by injustice. The state recognized that feelings such as wŏn were located in every subject, regardless of gender or status. By conferring the right to petition, the state sought to neutralize gender and status hierarchies to a limited degree in the domain of law and maintain social order by relieving the emotions of wŏn.
|Advisor:||Haboush, Jahyun Kim|
|School Location:||United States -- New York|
|Source:||DAI-A 71/03, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Asian History, Womens studies|
|Keywords:||Choson, Emotion, Grievance, Korea, Legal capacity, Petition, Women's rights|
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