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Monday, December 13, 2004

Korean nationalism - Prasenjit Duara and else

Hankyoreh reports in detail the recent visit to Korea by Prasenjit Duara, the historian from U of Chicago, and carries an interview with him.

Hakyoreh's interest in Duara stems from the use of his scholarship by the "conservative media" in promoting "post-nationalism". (최근 보수 언론 등을 통해 크게 ‘각광’받고 있는 탈민족주의의 ‘원형’을 직접 살필 기회라고 봤기 때문이다.) Hmm, does so much need to be response to what the conservative press says?

Duara tells in the interview that in case (manyak) Korean nationalism is capable of self-reflection it will be very beneficial, and not turn into seeking domestic and foreign foes and building a great and powerful nation. He also adds that "popular nationalism" (taejungjôk minjokchuûi) needs to be reflective in order not to combine with state nationalism to produce disastrous results.

Later in the interview comments it is written though as if Duara had given a positive appraisal of the Korean nationalism as being "reflective" (sôngch'aljôk).
구체적으로는 미국과 일본, 중국 등 주변 열강의 패권적 접근에 저항하면서, 그들을 다시 연대의 장으로 이끌어내는 일의 고단함을 충고한 셈이다. 한국의 성찰적 민족주의가 구현할 ‘새로운 근대적 실천’이라 할 때, 그것은 탈민족주의의 전범처럼 등장하는 유럽연합과도 구분되는 대단히 독특한 모델이 될 것이라는 점을 강조하는 것이기도 하다.
Further, "Duara does not suggest the abolition of nationalism per se, but recognizes the value of the reflective nationalism which appears in the Korean conditions." I haven't read a single line of Duara's text and wasn't either present in the interview, but it really looks like the writer is stretching his interpretation of Duara's interview.

In an adjoining Hankyoreh article, the conservative press is found to be the biggest benefactor of the talk ("since Roh's government took office") about China's hegemonism: "the imagined Chinese hegemonism (chunghwa p'aekwônjuûi) has been made to appear as a bigger menace than the actually existing US hegemonism" especially in reference to the question of the Gando are, which many see as having belonged to Korea until 1909

And behind this has been the conservative press; perhaps in part (here's Chosun Ilbo editorial, which maintains that the govt cannot stay silent in front of all the material which should show that Gando has belonged to Korea; also the Chosun special section about the Gando question), but among the Korean lawmakers the most enthusiastic about the return of Gando to Korea has been Kim Won-woong of the ruling party (Ohmynews piece); the same Ohmynews has neither kept quiet about "Chinese hegemonism" but published a series of special articles on the topic. The scholar quoted in the latter Hankyoreh article suggests "peaceful coexistence (평화공존) based not on European post-nationalism which emphasizes similarities but on East Asian natinoalism of resistance, which advocates difference (tokchasông." Resistance (chôhang); that is one fashionable term in social and human sciences, to the degree that I sometimes almost worry that my own research isn't about resistance to anything but about accommodation.

I wouldn't mind seeing some kind of a beneficial nationalism to appear, good for every nation in East Asia, but I just don't see much prospects for that. The "resistance" would be of course not against other East Asian nations, Japan included, but against United States.

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