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The Problems of 'Korea' and 'state' Throughout History

By Gina Barnes Professor Emeritus and Honorary Research Fellow, Durham University; Professorial Research Associates, SOAS, University of London

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
Fowler Museum
Los Angeles, CA 90095

We tend to use the term 'Korea' in juxtaposition with 'Japan' as referring to major states in the East Asian region. But because there are currently two Koreas, and even more 'Koreas' in the past, apologists claim that the word is a referent for the longer 'Korean Peninsula' even when we are referring to states rather than geography. Both these terms, 'Korea' and 'state' are problematic when dealing with the history of societies occupying the Korean Peninsula, and even 'peninsula' can be challenged in this context.

This lecture will explore some of the issues of climate, agriculture, geography, history, and social interactions that have contributed to a multifaceted 'Korea'. Of special interest is the division of the 'peninsula' into three or four polities in the proto-historic period, during the early interaction phase with Japan. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is invoked in discussing how our choice of words influences both our conceptions and expectations about states, ancient and modern; and the importance of a real approach is emphasized in discussing early state formation in the Pen/Insular region.


Upcoming Workshops by Professor Gina Barnes

Friday, October 12, 10-12 p.m.
Territoriality and Ideology in Japanese State Formation

Friday October 19, 10-12 p.m.
Powerful Women in Protohistorical Japan, Text and Artifact

Both workshops will be held in the Social Sciences Building, History Department Seminar Room (Room 250) at USC. For parking, go to Gate 3, on Figueroa. For more information, please contact Joan Piggott at


Cost: Free

Special Instructions

Open to the Public

For more information please contact

Sejung Kim
Tel: 310-825-3284

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies

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