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International Conference on "Korea in Global History"

May 11, 2017

From May 19-21, Prof. Harald Fuess, Chair of Cultural Economic History at the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, organized the international conference “Korea in Global History: The Long Nineteenth Century and the Foreign Powers”. The conference took place at the Karl Jaspers Centre in Heidelberg.

The long nineteenth century has received renewed scholarly attention as a key transformative period in global history for its accelerated engagement between Europe, America, Asia and Africa. Within this grander world narrative, the role of Korea still appears to be undervalued - if it is considered at all. The aim of this conference was to bridge the gap between scholars of East Asian history and Korea specialists in an attempt to address how to conceptualize the history of Korea within current historical frameworks.

The conference revisied one of the central problems of modern Korean history with an emphasis on the global context, namely why Korea lost its national independence in the age of imperialism. This question has been asked before by several generations of Korea historians, but this conference posed it again, considering the insights of global history and included historians whose primary research expertise lies in other world regions.

The Korea conference started on Friday, May 19, at 9 am with the first day putting the thematic emphasis on the question: “Re-Interpreting History?” The second day of the conference then focused on “The Demise of the Korean State, Re-Constitution of Korean Culture”. It then rounded off by a dinner for the conference participants on Saturday evening, May 20. Publishing plans and further practical issues concluded the event on Sunday morning.

On Friday, May 19, Prof. Kyung Moon Hwang from USC Dornsife gave the keynote speech to the conference, entitled “Global and East Asian Statecraft in Korea at the Close of the Long 19th Century, 1890-1910”. Focusing on statecraft rationalities from neighbouring and global sources that interacted with longstanding rationalities of the Joseon administration, it dealt with the question of how Koreans’ responses to imperialism got expressed in changes to the state in the late 19th century.

On Thursday, May 18, the day of arrival, participants were also invited to take part in the Cluster’s “Jour Fixe”. David Howell, Professor of Japanese History at Harvard University, gave a speech entitled “How Green was my Night Soil: Thinking with Excrement about Nineteenth-Century Japan”.

The Conference was funded by the Academy of Korean Studies, as well as the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Harald Fuess is Chair of Cultural Economic History at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. He is involved in numerous associations and global programs, including the Top Global University Program where he is Project Professor at Kyoto University and the Hexagon Alliance where he acts as the Scientific Coordinator.

Find out more about the conference here.


picture: cigcardpix (www.flickr.com/photos/44841559@N03/8370028472)


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