Korea Seminar: Anatomically Speaking: Kubo Takeshi, Physical Anthropology, and the Paradox of Race in Colonial Korea
Fri, September 16, 2011 • 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM • Meyerson Conference Room, WCH 4.118
Hoi-eun Kim, Asssistant Professor at the Department of History at Texas A&M to give a talk. Reception at 3:00 p.m.
The month of June 1921 was a tumultuous period at the Keijo Medical College, an elite medical school established by the Japanese Government-General in colonial Korea. Refusing to attend lectures, almost two hundred Korean medical students enrolled in this college staged a month-long strike, which was in turn met by severe punishment from the school: the expulsion of nine Korean students and the suspension of the remaining 181 students. The full-frontal confrontation that even Governor-General Saitō Makoto could not reconcile came to an end only on 28 June, when the student body accepted the mediation effort by their parents. Why did these Korean medical students decide to fight against the colonial school administrators, which was a suicidal choice for their careers? In other words, what was at stake?
Using this seemingly innocuous academic brouhaha, which came to be known as the Kubo Incident, named after the main instigator of the event, Kubo Takeshi, a professor of anatomy at the school and expert of physical anthropology, Hoi-eun Kim reconstructs the global movement of ideas of race from Germany to Japan to Korea and highlights the paradoxical working of Japanese racism in colonial Korea: functionally impervious while seemingly malleable.