posted by Devin Fitzgerald
A review of the Harvard Yenching Library Rare Books Collection, Harvard University, Cambridge MA, USA.
The Harvard-Yenching Library holds more than 1.3 million volumes. This review won’t bore readers with the details of each collection, which are introduced on the library’s website. Instead, my aim is to convince the reader to consider a visit to the library and its world-class rare book collection. Although most of the library’s holdings are listed in fully searchable catalogs, there are many discoveries awaiting even cursory exploration. Our persisting ignorance of the Harvard-Yenching...
posted by George Kallander
A review of Divergent Visions of Serving the Great: The Emergence of Chosŏn-Qing Tributary Relations as a Politics of Representation, by Joshua Van Lieu.
In this fascinating dissertation, Joshua Van Lieu examines the international ritual protocol between Chosŏn dynasty Korea and Qing dynasty China in the late-nineteenth century. Basing his study on close readings of Korean and Chinese sources, he argues that the larger geopolitical realities of Northeast Asia, mainly the impact of Western and Japanese imperialism, compelled Qing and Chosŏn officials to rethink not only the form but also the...
posted by Robert Oppenheim
A review of The Hope and Crisis of Pragmatic Transition: Politics, Law, Anthropology and South Korea, by Amy Beth Levine.
Anthropologists don’t always talk about method, but when they do, “pragmatism” often names its character. At the same time, in recent decades “pragmatism” has been a transnationally-resonant political commitment, or at least claim. Its mantle has been assumed by everyone from Blair-Clinton era “Third Way” centrists to South Korean progressives seeking the grounds of possibility in a “post-ideological” and then post-IMF neoliberal moment. The latter, more...
posted by Laurence Caillet
A review of La construction d’une identité religieuse bouddhiste en Corée du Sud (The Construction of a Buddhist Religious Identity in South Korea), by Florence Galmiche.
Florence Galmiche’s The Construction of a Buddhist Religious Identity in South Korea is a 371-page dissertation, originally written in French, richly illustrated with photographs taken by the author. It includes a glossary, a list of informants, a list of primary sources, and a trilingual bibliography (English, French and Korean). It could be characterized as a classic thesis in social anthropology. However, the subject...
posted by Vincent Goossaert
A review of Le «pentecôtiste coréen» à l’épreuve de la transnationalisation: Le cas de l’église du Plein évangile de Cho Yonggi (“Korean Pentecostalism” Facing Transnationalization: A Case Study of Cho Yonggi’s Full Gospel Church), by Kim Hui-yeon.
This EHESS dissertation, defended on December 13 2011, is a sociological study of the well-known Full Gospel Church (Sunbogeum Gyohoe 순복음 교회) founded by Cho Yonggi 조용기 (1936- ) in 1958. While there is a body of literature on this Church, originally a small congregation affiliated with the Assemblies of God...
posted by Robert Oppenheim
A Review of Divining Capital: Spectral Returns and the Commodification of Fate in South Korea, by DAVID J. KIM.
David J. Kim’s “Divining Capital” offers a major new analysis of South Korean shamanism in the present historical moment that is simultaneously a consideration of the present as a moment. Distinctive is Kim’s “peripatetic” approach to his subject, namely “walking through the city” and encountering divination practices amidst a landscape of commodities (p. 38). Chapter 1 weaves together ethnographic encounters with a consideration of the history of the category of...