Research Topics

I don’t know if any of the audience of this blog is interested in my research paper topics, but since this is about time for final papers, I want to show step-by-step evolution of my thoughts and research, here. I usually write down my thoughts and wonders on scrap paper, and try to explain my points to my friends in order to find coherence in my messy discoveries. However, I often get frustrated at myself since I am not eloquent when explaining multiple threads at a time. Thus I am experimenting this time to see if blogging is useful to organize my thoughts. I also should start recording what I looked at during my research since my papers are directly or indirectly related to my future dissertation as well. There are interesting things I see along the way but not immediately related to the current topics, to which I might want to come back later and find out the contextual background. I also hope that someone can kindly point out if I am overlooking important points or missing major sources.  

Ok. I have two research papers to do by early May. The first hard thing is to find a narrow enough, but interesting topic. I browsed the section on Korea’s colonial history at Columbia’s Starr Library and found these among others:

They are both reports on thought crimes and ideological movements in Korea at the time. The Kominka (皇民化) will be the key target of my dissertation so I was fascinated. I tried to find anything interesting about Korean youth, and activities of the Japanese Seinendan (these are my main dissertation interest). One thing that comes up repeatedly and catches my attention is the ‘休校同盟の状況.’ I looked at a part of the reports closely, and it seems there were elementary and middle school students who went on a strike for various reasons. The Japanese authority took it seriously and created a meticulous report on the situation every year. I never heard of such an incident happening in wartime Japan. I decided to write about it in one of my papers.

I have read about colonial education in Taiwan before (but not really in Korea yet), learned how education had a dual role; for the Japanese authority, it was a means of control; for the Taiwanese (especially intellectuals), it was a means of empowerment (and possibly resistance). I need to read more about how Korean people perceived colonial education in Korea, but if education had a similar dual role, the voice of school children is an interesting “direct negotiation” between the two roles. I do not want to reduce this to a mere “weapon of the weak” theme, since the Japanese authority was truly afraid of youth revolts in Korea that would seriously undermine Japanese legitimacy. I hope this topic is neat and narrow enough for a paper. I have also compiled a short list of starting bibliography, which I will post here soon.

Now I am trying to figure out a topic for the other paper. I am having more trouble on this, and it feels like I am dealing with a much bigger theme than I could handle for one research paper. I will write about it next time.  

Category(s): History, Japan, Korea, My Grad School Life, Research

2 Responses to Research Topics

  1. Sounds like an interesting topic. If it isn’t on your bibliography already, “The Kominka Movement in Taiwan and Korea: Comparisons and Interpretations”by 周婉窈 (Chou Wanyao) might be worth looking into.

  2. Thanks Jon. That reminded me of reading Japan’ s Wartime Empire book…

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