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Northern Territories and the Historical Understanding of Territory in Late Chosŏn

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Chapter Summary

Prasenjit Duara has reminded the multiplicity of identities and historical narratives in pre-modern societies. The term Chosŏn intellectuals used when writing dynasty-transcending histories of the Korean peninsula and adjacent areas to the north was 'Eastern History', or 'the History of the Eastern Kingdom'. Without questioning the existence of ethnic identity in Chosŏn Korea, this chapter argues to equate Eastern history or the History of the Eastern Kingdom consistently with the modern concept of a Korean ethnic nation at times that puts a straitjacket on the rich and diverse historical discourse of late Chosŏn. It argues that understanding the rationale behind the inclusion of Parhae into eastern History will provide a crucial clue as to how intellectuals of the period viewed the relationship between the Korean peninsula and the Liaodong/Manchuria area, which in turn will provide a clue as to the historical understanding of territory in the larger region.

Keywords: Chosŏn; Korean peninsula; Liaodong/Manchuria area; Parhae; Prasenjit Duara



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