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Primitive SelvesKoreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910-1945$
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E.Taylor Atkins

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520266735

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520266735.001.0001

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Ethnography as Self-Reflection

Ethnography as Self-Reflection

Japanese Anthropology in Colonial Korea

(p.52) Chapter 2 Ethnography as Self-Reflection
Primitive Selves

E. Taylor Atkins

University of California Press

This chapter teases out the multiple, sometimes contradictory, messages in Japanese ethnographic accounts and images of colonial Korea to assess their practical and ideological value to the imperial project. It argues that colonial anthropology in Korea was characterized by two conflicting tendencies, both of which served official colonial objectives only obliquely: ethnographic accounts and images maximized Korean difference to enhance the grandeur of the Japanese empire, dramatize the urgent necessity of Japan's civilizing influence, and justify the purportedly altruistic intrusion on Korean sovereignty. But often these descriptions and images simultaneously minimized Korean difference in accordance with the dictates of the ideology of common ancestry (nissen dō soron), so as to make the annexation appear as a smooth integration of backward cousins into the Japanese family-state, and to enable a rediscovery of Japanese origins that enhanced the ongoing efforts to promote national cultural identity within the metropole.

Keywords:   Japanese ethnographic accounts, colonial Korea, imperial project, colonial anthropology, Japanese empire

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