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In Session: Domestic Spaces in Korea: Reconfiguring Historical Narratives
2: The Dreams of Male Gardeners: Domestic Gardens on the Korean Homefront, 1941-1945
Thursday, March 25, 2021
3:00pm – 4:30pm EDT
York University, Canada
Between 1937 and 1945, the Japanese colonial state in Korea turned the everyday production and consumption of food into a major site of total war mobilization. This article examines a component of this mobilization, an urban gardening program called the One-P’yŏng Farm Movement (Ilp’yŏng nongwŏn undong), with a focus on the ways in which urban food production interfaced with the formation of male subjectivity in domestic space. Rather than describing subject formation as an outcome of top-down state policy, this paper illuminates how everyday practices interacted with multiple desires of the period—especially, the class and gendered aspirations of the male bourgeois to cultivate an ideal subjectivity and lifestyle. By revealing the tensions and anxieties behind these desires, this paper presents urban domestic gardens not as a utopic refuge for male bourgeois gardeners but as a disquiet space at war.