[CFP] Power and Dissent, Seoul National University

Power and Dissent: Understanding Korea’s Past and Present Challenges through Korean Studies

The 9th Kyujanggak Symposium for Korean Studies is seeking panel proposals on the theme of “Power and Dissent.” The Symposium will take place over two days (Aug. 18-19) at the Kyujanggak Institute for Korean Studies. While panel proposals are preferred, individual papers will also be considered, provided they can be meaningfully grouped in a panel or attached to one of the organized panels. Proposals (containing short abstract of the panel and of the panel’s individual papers, as well as a short CV of the organizer) should be sent to icks@snu.ac.kr by February 25. Please find below a short description of the conference theme; panels will be chosen on the basis of their intrinsic merit and on their relevance to the conference topic.

The practice of dissent—the public objection to decisions or actions by those in power—has long held a significant place in Korean political and social life. Although the concept of protest is perhaps most readily associated in Korean Studies with the protest movements against authoritarian governments in South Korea, the phenomenon of individual or collective opposition to authority has notable historical precedents as well as contemporary manifestations that reflect changing relations of power within Korean society over time. In considering present-day social protests and other forms of resistance, what contrasts, parallels, or implications can be drawn regarding, for example, the Choson-era system of petitions that afforded ordinary people an officially sanctioned venue to express their grievances and suffering? What is the place of dissenting public opinion in Korea’s past and contemporary contexts? How has dissent historically prevailed as a force of influence in Korean political or social life, or how has it been managed or contained? What insights drawn from studies of earlier peasant- and labor protest movements may shed light on recent rural and urban resistance struggles against neoliberal economic policies? What is the relationship between dissent and Korean modernity? What is the role of the arts or religion in the critique of power? How have dissident Korean visual and literary artists, musicians, religious leaders, or other cultural figures made interventions in public life that contributed toward social change or reconciliation of social conflict?

This symposium seeks to explore these and other questions. Given the complexity of understanding how power is constituted in our present age of neoliberal globalization, it is necessary to broaden the conventional understanding of dissent in Korean Studies and to increase our critical awareness of both contemporary forces of protest as well as past historical legacies that may continue to inform popular expressions of social or economic suffering or anxiety about the future. We therefore look forward to proposals that demonstrate critical engagement with current theoretical or empirical scholarship relevant to these issues.

The primary requirement for proposals is that they reflect critically on how power and authority have been challenged in Korean society present and past. The second main characteristic sought in proposals is that they formulate ways in which Korean Studies can contribute to current debates in Korean society. We particularly welcome proposals that not only endeavor to analyze, but also look toward ways of overcoming current problems and divisions.

Topics for panel proposals (preferred) or papers might include, but are not limited to:

  • Politics of dissent in a post-authoritarian Korean society
  • Resisting imperialism: Controversies over hegemony and sovereignty
  • Petitions to the king on social or individual problems in Choson Korea
  • Resisting the tribute system: Towards a new conceptualization of power relations in pre-modern East Asia
  • Religious movements and political opposition
  • Dissent in North Korean society
  • Cultural politics of the collective statement by domestic and/or foreign scholars
  • Surveillance or criminalization of dissent across time periods
  • Dissident arts and literature

#451 International Center for Korean Studies
103 Kyujanggak Institute
Seoul National University
1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul
151-742, Republic of Korea
T +82.2.880.9378 F +82.2.883.3305