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Title:Life histories of two Korean women who marry American GIs
Author(s):Yoo, Chul-In
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Bruner, Edward M.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):American Studies
Anthropology, Cultural
Women's Studies
Abstract:This study presents and interprets the lives of two Korean women, Sunhi and Aeran. These women in their forties married American GIs stationed in South Korea and have since then lived with their husbands in the U.S. One of my objectives is to understand them through their life histories told to me in their own plot with their own pace. The other is to elucidate the way they shaped their life stories.
Life history is a text to be constructed and interpreted. There are two kinds of understanding in this study. The subjects' self-understanding involves the conceptualization of experience and entails temporal distance among the life as lived, as experienced, and as told. My understanding is a fusion of my preunderstanding of their lives and their lives as told to me. It shows the difference between the life as told and the life as studied.
Sunhi conceptualized her experience within Korean native idioms of fate: she resigned herself to her fate when she finished telling her life history. Sunhi's understanding of her own life led her to adopt the narrative form which resembles the $sinse\ t\sp\prime ary\{o}ng,$ a Korean folk narrative of one's lot or circumstances. On the contrary, Aeran conceptualized her experience by contrasting the present with the past: she has achieved the happiest life for a woman despite her past situation where prospects for a Korean woman were not good. Aeran's understanding made her life history a mythical, self-made survival story like a Western autobiography.
This study has three implications for life history. First, among the elements of narrative--story, discourse, and telling--story may not be changed much when a narrative told in a natural context of conversation is converted into an elicited form. Second, my understanding is just one way to understand Sunhi and Aeran, and they remain themselves regardless of my understanding. Lastly, there is a possibility of cultural critique in a documentary frame.
Issue Date:1993
Rights Information:Copyright 1993 Yoo, Chul-In
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9411833
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9411833

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