Diana Kim (Georgetown)


The Poet and the Partisan: On the Many Meanings of the State in Wartime Korea (1950-1953)

This talk explores what governance meant to people living in places ruled under armed non-state actors during the Korean War (1950-1953). Drawing on a rich set of oral histories with local communities bordering the great mountains of South Korea’s Jeju Island and South Jeolla Province—areas especially infamous for civilian massacres due to suspect ties with communist organizations and irregular guerilla forces—it traces a variety of hyper-small schemes for regulating intimate and communal life, sharing resources, doing paperwork, administering justice, and articulating political voice. Such arrangements, I contend, invite new conceptualizations of the state and ways of describing wartime governance not least because they were so short-lived and operated on such a micro-scale that they poorly fit conventional understandings of rebel and criminal governance that focus on formal institutions mimetic of the state’s bureaucracy, legislature, courts or coercive apparatus.

This seminar took place on Monday April 29 2024.