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Aesthetic Constructions of Korean Nationalism: Spectacle, Politics and History

Publisher: , 2011
Link to online store *

While most studies on Korean nationalism centre on textual analysis, Aesthetic Constructions of Korean Nationalism offers a different approach. It looks at expositions, museums and the urban built environment at particular moments in both colonial and postcolonial eras and analyses their discursive relations in the construction of Korean nationalism. By linking concepts of visual spectacle, urban space and governmentality, this book explores how such notions made the nation imaginable to the public in both the past and the present; how they represented a new modality of seeing for the state and contributed to the shaping of collective identities in colonial and postcolonial Korea. The author further examines how their different modes were associated with the change in governmentality in Korea. In addressing these questions, the book interprets the politics behind the culture of displays and shows both the continuity and the transformation of spectacles as a governing technology in twentieth-century Korea. Aesthetic Constructions of Korean Nationalism is a significant contribution to a study of the politics of visual culture in colonial and postcolonial Korea.

The book will be of interest to students and scholars of Korean Studies, Culture and Heritage Studies and Asian Studies.

Source: publisher’s website:

Table of Contents


Part I: Modernity, Colonial Expositions and the City

Chapter 1: Nationalism and the Politics of Visual Comparison: The 1915 Korean Industrial Exposition
Chapter 2: Modeling the West, Returning to Asia: The 1929 Korean Exposition
Chapter 3: Seoul in Motion: Urban Form and Political Consciousness

Part II: Korean Nationalism and Postcolonial Exhibitions

Chapter 4: The Temple of Ethnic Nationalism: War Memorial Museums in Korea and Japan
Chapter 5: Ancestors, the Avant-garde and the Making of “Culture” in Postcolonial Korea
Chapter 6: Flowing Back to the Future: the Cheonggye Stream Restoration

Hong Kal is Associate Professor of Art History of the Visual Arts Department at York University.

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