From Chaoxian ren to Chaoxian zu: Korean Identity under Japanese Empire and Chinese Nation-State
Ahn, Chong Eun
MetadataShow full item record
My dissertation examines the identity formation of ethnic Koreans who were treated as colonial subjects in the Japanese empire and then categorized as ethnic minorities in the People's Republic of China (PRC). I locate the creation and transformation of identities for these Koreans in the tumultuous political and social context of East Asia from the late 19th century to the 1950s. Chaoxian ren (Korean people) were situated at the center of Japan's colonial project in the northeastern region of China, and the construction of Chaoxian zu (Korean Chinese ethnic minority) was a key element in the formation of the PRC's policies on ethnicity, which was a crucial part of its project of nation-state building. By examining the Korean Chinese minority's complex history, under-studied history of this group of people and their self-perceptions, this dissertation demonstrates that Koreans actively participated in the creation and transformation of their ethnic identity and that they were able to negotiate and manipulate racial politics and state policies towards them. For instance, Japanese colonialists held strictly racial attitudes towards Japanese, Korean, and Chinese peoples respectively. Yet, such strict attitudes, which led to racial policies in the Japanese empire, did not always automatically result in conflicts between Koreans and Chinese. I argue that, being situated in between Japanese colonizers and Chinese natives, ordinary Korean migrants survived by positioning themselves ambiguously as Japanese colonial agents as well as allies of Chinese nationalists. When the Second World War was over, these Koreans actively participated in developing their ambiguous identities into a single ethnic identity. They began to identify themselves as ethnic members of the new Chinese nation by participating in mass campaigns, including the fighting local bandits during the Chinese Civil War and the Han Chinese language education movement in the 1950s. In contrast to colonized Koreans on the Korean peninsula, ethnic Koreans in northeast China survived colonization and decolonization with tactical ambiguity in their political and ethnic identities in the Japanese empire and as active ethnic participants of Chinese nation building.
- History