Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Korea Institute, Harvard University
Chaired by Sun Joo Kim, Harvard-Yenching Professor of Korean History; Director, Korea Institute, Harvard University
Local administrative records from 18th-century Namwŏn document a village setting characterized by contention, argument, and competing interests. Most importantly, the documents reveal that local administration, local social groups, and the central state engaged in intricate forms of negotiation when resolving local disputes. Close analysis of those negotiations—many of which involved clever strategies by marginal persons—demonstrates that the ideology and procedures of the state, far from exhibiting a general coherence, often appeared incoherent. Local administration and residents of Namwŏn both recognized those moments of incoherence and used it strategically to their advantage, when appropriate and opportune. This presentation introduces several focused case studies from the Namwŏn documents and examines their significance for our understanding of state function, especially as concerns the role of the magistrate.
Generously supported by the Min Young-Chul Memorial Fund at the Korea Institute.