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Title:From military government to bases: Race, gender, and U.S. empire in Korea
Author(s):Kwon, Yaejoon
Director of Research:Jung, Moon-Kie
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Jung, Moon-Kie; Marshall, Anna-Maria
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz; Moon, Seungsook
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
military occupation
Abstract:Through a socio-historical case study of the United State Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK) from 1945 to 1949, this dissertation examines the relationships between race, gender, and U.S. empire. I argue that the military is not just a repressive arm of the state but an ideological arm of the state that actively participates in social formations, blurring the lines between civilian and military realms. Emphasizing the centrality of raced and gendered power in military occupations and in the maintenance of U.S. empire, I propose a sociology of military occupations that centers three entry points of inquiry: 1) knowledge creation, 2) technologies of rule, and 3) conflicts, contradictions, and controversies. Each chapter of the dissertation tackles one of the three entry points to study the organization and character of power during the occupation. The first entry point, knowledge creation, deals with the framing of the occupation and the boundaries created to legitimate the occupation and de-legitimate local actions towards self-determination. In chapter two, “Trans-Colonial Racial Formation: Constructing the “Irish of the Orient”,” I reveal how the U.S. pulled racial knowledge gained through previous colonial experiences and from British and Japanese empires to construct the racial script of the “Irish of the Orient.” I find the racial formation of Koreans during the U.S. military occupation exemplified the relational, non-linear, and trans-colonial process of racial formation. The second entry point, technologies of power and rule, focuses on the organizational aspects of governance. The objective of this entry point is to understand how power is organized and what institutional, structural, and social technologies facilitate both physical and psychological violence. In chapter three, “The Legal Infrastructure of Raced and Gendered Violence,” I examine law as a technology of rule. By looking both at the formal and informal legal systems within the military government, this chapter demonstrates that the pluralistic nature of U.S. military’s legal structures produced an environment that institutionalized raced and gendered violence during the occupation. The third entry point asks researchers to identify and examine moments of conflict, contradiction, or controversy as a way to reveal how domestic hierarchies of citizenship and social formations are being tested, defied, reified, or modified abroad. This allows us to see how military bases and occupations abroad become testing grounds for how power is organized domestically. Chapter four, “Regulating Marriage and Race: Marital and Martial Masculinities in the Making of American Manhood,” examines a conflict and contradiction that the military government had to address—the marriage of U.S. soldiers to Koreans. By focusing on the problem of managing masculinities through marriage, this chapter demonstrates how martial masculinity defies the civilian-military binary and how the military as an ideological institution actively maintains racialized hierarchies of citizenship. The last chapter, “Expanding Camp Humphreys: Militarized Development and the New Regime of Family and Luxury,” uses all three entry points to analyze the contemporary period of U.S. empire in South Korea. I argue the physical and discursive construction of Camp Humphreys introduces a new regime of living as a shift in U.S. strategy for the management of soldier conduct, South Korean attitudes towards the U.S., and the military’s own image control.
Issue Date:2018-04-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Yaejoon Kwon
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-09-04
Date Deposited:2018-05

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