Todd A. Henry
Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945
University of California Press 2014
Todd Henry’s new book is a wonderful study of public space as a laboratory for producing the experiences and engines of colonial society. Assimilating Seoul: Japanese Rule and the Politics of Public Space in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945 (University of California Press, 2014) explores the forms of spatialization of colonial KeijÅ as a way of getting at the forms of assimilation of colonial Korean subjects under Japanese rule. Henry’s book, an ethnographic history, reconsiders what “assimilation” meant in colonial practice in early-mid twentieth century Korea, treating forms of assimilation – spiritual, material, civic – as they emerged in the spaces of the colonial capital, roads, government buildings, shrines, public expositions, and households. Assimilating Seoul also includes some fascinating case studies on the histories of Shinto, hygiene and disease, and public spectacle. Henry challenges our conventional treatment of both space and time in the book, periodizing colonial Korean history in unusual and productive ways. Enjoy!