“The Enigmatic Legend of Feminized Men: A Sociocultural History of a Scholar-Bureaucrat Family in Gyeonggi Province”
Shimpei Cole Ota, Research Associate, American Museum of Natural History and Associate Professor, National Institutes for the Humanities & Graduate University for Advanced Studies; Moderated by Jungwon Kim, King Sejong Assistant Professor of Korean Studies in the Humanities in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University
Thursday, April 28, 2016
4:00PM – 5:30PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918
No registration required.
Co-sponsored by The Korea Foundation and the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
The sociocultural history of the Scholar-Bureaucrat (sajok) class has been one of the main concerns in Korean anthropology for more than a century. Some of this academic discourse is now well-known even to descendants of the class. No one can deny, however, that anthropologists’ interpretations advanced to data are based solely on evidence acquired through fieldworks in rural villages, despite historians pointing out that the sajok class in the Seoul metropolitan area was obviously quite different from rural sajok .
In this talk, (1) I will describe how a sajok family in Gyeonggi Province, where Seoul is now located, lived during the Choson dynasty, (2) the factors that shaped their culture, (3) why the rural sajok have been the focus of attention in modern times and (4) what has happened to the family in today’s Korea. I hope to offer some keys to understanding the real meaning behind the enigmatic legend that female members of the family sometimes can be heard murmuring; “our men have been feminized.”
Shimpei Cole OTA is an Associate Professor of social systems at the National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) which is one of the National Institutes for the Humanities, Japan (NIHU). He is also Associate Professor of comparative studies at the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (SOKENDAI), Japan. He earned his PhD in sociocultural anthropology from Osaka University in 2007, after completing an additional doctorate program in anthropology at Seoul National University from 2000 to 2003.
Dr. Ota’s research examines people’s perceptions of their own cultures and, more specifically, how members of different groups perceive “change” in their cultures. Besides sajok studies, his publications explore South Korean activists’ perceptions of Korean “democratization.” He has also been conducting research on Korean celadon ceramics and on recent Korean migration to Mainland China, Japan, the United States and Canada.