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Romancing race and gender : intermarriage and the making of a 'modern subjectivity' in colonial Korea, 1910-1945


This dissertation investigates the discourse and representation of interracial marriage and transnational romance through an examination of popular texts and colonial policies during the Japanese colonial era in Korea (1910-1945). For the colonial ruler, the unusual promotion of interracial marriages between the colonizer and colonized (Japanese and Koreans), which was a part of an assimilation policy, could act as a means to demonstrate the benevolence of the Japanese Empire and encourage Koreans to advance into full imperial citizens. For the colonized people, it might have started as a subjugating colonial project, but then it presented the possibility of becoming much-desired modern subjects, thus it changed construction of "modern subjectivity" and further complicating understandings of race, gender, and sexuality in everyday life. This dissertation traces how an assimilative colonial state program - the promotion of intermarriage between Koreans and Japanese - turned into diverse discourses that impacted public discourses and literary representations of racial and gender norms. The dissertation is organized into four chapters. The first sketches the historical context of interracial marriage between Koreans and Japanese. The remaining chapters focus on analyzing popular texts and contextualizing them within particular issues surrounding intermarriage and romance, such as the construction of domesticity in intermarriage texts (Chapter Two), the representation of international marriage and modern home in popular print culture (Chapter Three), and race and gender in encountering others at the end of the colonial era (Chapter Four). In conclusion, this dissertation aims to unveil the influence of colonial intimacy and articulations of race and gender discourses in the making of a "modern subjectivity" in Korea in the time of Japanese empire-building. It contributes to the growing discussion of modern colonialism and imperialism by examining the everyday life of colonized territories and how colonized people understood, articulated, and manipulated colonial discourse

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