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Title: Public cemeteries and the production of urban space in colonial Seoul, 1910-1945
Author: Lee, Hyang A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 2513
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis traces the production process of colonial urban space in Seoul. In particular, the research analyses how the space of the dead (the gravesite) was transformed into a space of urban settlers during the colonial period. The Government General Korea introduced the burial rule in 1912, the first modern law of its kind, to control (the space of) the dead within the realm of the state. At the core of the 1912 burial rule was the prohibition of long-standing interment customs - such as feng-shui-based private gravesites - and the installation of public cemeteries as the only place for interment. The rule also introduced cremation into Korean society, a practice that had long been taboo. The gravesite had embodied significant meaning and served important functions within Korean society in the past, but the burial rule changed the whole relationship between the living and the gravesite. Indeed, as this thesis shows, the burial rule was one of the governing strategies deployed in shaping and transforming Koreans' institutions, physical space, and consciousness. To capture the inter-relational mechanisms between the transformation of the gravesite and the wider urban development of the colonial capital Seoul, the thesis uses a unique theoretical and analytical framework, which the author calls 'institutional political economy.' Through this framework and echoing Lefebvre's spatial triad of the production of space, this thesis argues that urban space is produced through the dialectical relations of the institutions, material space, and experience/consciousness. The gravesite, especially in Seoul, underwent a major transformation during the colonial period, which consequently had a substantial impact on Koreans' attitudes towards and notions of death and the gravesite. The thesis demonstrates how these changing attitudes corresponded and interacted with the capitalist urbanisation of Seoul, which would ultimately produce a new urban landscape and urban consciousness and subjectivity within modern Seoul.
Supervisor: Therborn, Göran Sponsor: Cambridge Overseas Trusts
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: colonial Seoul ; public cemeteries ; burial rule ; colonial urbanisation