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Title: Visions of China, Korea and Japan in the East Asian War, 1592-1598
Author: Craig, John Marshall
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 1522
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Readings of contemporary accounts of the Japanese invasion of Choson Korea and Ming China's intervention, by Japanese, Korean, and Chinese writers; analysis of the writers' disparate world-views and how they each envision their country and its neighbours. This thesis uses contemporary writings from across the region to study the significance of the East Asian War of 1592-1598 for Chinese, Korean, and Japanese senses of identity, and argues that the war was a crucial moment in the development of those identities. Despite the 1592-1598 conflict affecting millions of people, and resulting in almost unprecedented cross-border flows of people and information, most previous considerations of its effect on identity have focused on court documents. In the first dedicated study of identities in the East Asian War, this thesis shifts from the hitherto emphasis on politicians and commanders to prioritize individuals at the frontiers of cross-border contact. This shift of focus from centre to periphery contributes to our understanding of two areas of history. In terms of the East Asian War as a historical event, it provides a far more nuanced picture of what this momentous conflict signified for people at the time. In terms of the history of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese identities, it demonstrates persuasively that the sense of belonging to a country held real meaning for people across society, influencing the actions even of those totally removed from the state. Tracing the legacy of frontier writings again contributes to both the history of the war and of identity, by revealing how peripheral insights and central biases combined to give birth to the orthodox narratives of the war, some of which remain influential to this day. Personal writings show how first-hand encounters in the war modified but also re-inforced already well-established identities, making national identities of immediate significance for an immeasurably wider group than in peace time. The late sixteenth-century growth in printing and literacy subsequently greatly amplified the impact of the East Asian War by allowing real-life interaction to be endlessly re-told as a dramatic clash between China, Korea, and Japan. This study restores the war to its proper place as a key moment in the longer development of national identities in East Asia. It also calls for a primary-source based, East-Asia centred reconsideration of theories on the historical development of collective identity, which remain overly influenced by later European experience.
Supervisor: Lewis, James ; ter Haar, Barend Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: War and society--East Asia--History ; Collective memory--East Asia--History ; East Asia--Foreign relations--History ; Korea--History--Japanese Invasions ; 1592-1598 ; Japan--History ; Military--To 1868 ; China--History ; Military--960-1644