A Reconsideration of ‘Colonial Modernization’

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Kim, Nak Nyeon
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Center for Social Sciences, Seoul National University
Korean Social Sciences Review(KSSR) Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 221-262
exploitationcolonial modernizationcolonial modernityliving standardscolonial public spherecollaborationdisciplinary powercultural hegemonydaily lifecontinuity and discontinuity
Translated from the published article in Review of Economic History 43: 155-188, 2007 with permission from the Korean Economic History Society.
There has been much debate between the ‘exploitation view’ and the ‘colonial modernization
view’ on how to assess the consequences of the institutional changes and industrialization
initiated by Japanese colonizers in Korea during the colonial period, and how to identify
what kind of legacies were passed on to Korea’s post-liberation period. Recently another view
that criticizes both of the views and focuses instead on social and cultural aspects of colonial
Korea has emerged. This third view, called the ‘colonial modernity view’, shares with the
second view in stressing the complicated relations between colonialism and modernity, but
unlike the other views, perceives modernity in a negative sense. This article surveys recent
studies on political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of colonial Korea, and makes clear
the points in which each view diverges from the others. Recognizing that each of the three
views has its own strength and weakness in different aspects of their arguments, this article
explores areas in which they come together in mutual and complementary understanding.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Center for Social Sciences (사회과학연구원)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR)Korean Social Sciences Review (KSSR) Vol.01, No.01 (2011)
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