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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 15(2); 2010 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2010;15(2): 35-67.
The Study of Korean Villages during the Japanese Colonial Period and Colonial Modernity
Yong-ki Lee
Research Professor, Academy of East Asian Studies, Sungkyunkwan University
성균관대학교 동아시아학술원 연구교수
This study reviews trends in the study of Korean villages during the Japanese colonial period. Such an exercise is carried out in order to summarize the research-related issues that have emerged over time, and to suggest a desirable future direction for this particular field of study. Villages were the basic units in which peasants’ everyday lives unfolded, and the lowest unit in terms of the state’s governance of its people. They served as dynamic spaces in which the autonomy of the people and the governance of the state encountered and came into conflict with one another. In this respect, the study of Korean villages during the Japanese colonial period makes it possible to perceive colonial modernity from the bottom-up viewpoint. More to the point, this can be achieved by analyzing the relationships between ‘control and autonomy’ and ‘tradition and modernity’ that took form amidst the people’s everyday lives. The studies of villages during the Japanese colonial period, a field which started to come into its own during the 1990s, have been conducted as part of the wider study of the colonial government’s rural control policy. However, recent studies have moved beyond the field of the history of policy and approached villages from the standpoint of social history. As earlier studies tended to focus on villages from the standpoint of policy history, villages were in effect regarded as the objects of the colonial control policy. Moreover, the predominance of the colonial exploitation approach resulted in the autonomous order of villages being regarded as having been reconstructed and distorted into the government-led order by the colonial authority. Meanwhile, the recent studies have sought to identify the characteristics of colonial modernity, including the possibility of autonomous actions and choices on the part of the peasants, from the standpoint of the tension between the colonial authority and villagers. Some of the issues which have been raised in recent studies that have critically perceived the modality and characteristics of colonial modernity carried out from the standpoint of the criticism of modernity include: 1) the degree of penetration degree and characteristics of colonial control over villages, 2) the changes in the internal order of villages and extent thereof, 3) the characteristics of the traditional elements which existed in villages despite the advancement of colonial modernity. This study reviewed these issues and introduced two elements that should be part of the future direction of this field, namely the use of a bottom-up approach and the deepening of the perception of colonial modernity based on this bottom-up approach. In addition, detailed matters related to the implementation of this direction were also discussed.
Keywords: village, internal order of village, tonggye, control and autonomy, tradition and modernity, colonial modernity, bottom-up approach

이 글은 일제시기 촌락에 관한 연구 동향을 검토하여 연구사직 쟁점을 정리하고 향후 연구의 방향을 제시하려는 것이다. 촌락은 농민들의 일상적 삶의 기초단위이자 국가의 대민지배의 최하위 단위로서 민중의 자율성과 국가의 지배가 만나고 부딪히는 역동적 공간이다. 따라서 일제시기 촌락에 관한 연구를 통해 민중의 일상적 삶의 레벨에 형성된 ‘지배와 자치’, ‘전통과 근대’의 관계를 파악함으로써 ‘아래로부터’의 관점에서 식민지근대를 이해할 수 있을 것이다. 1990년대 이후 활발해진 일제시기 촌락에 관한 연구는 초기에는 일제의 농촌지배 정책 연구에서 부분적으로 다루어지다가 최근에는 정책사 분야에 한정되지 않고 사회사적 접근으로 확장되고 있다. 초기의 연구는 정책사적 접근이 두드러졌기 때문에 촌락이 식민지배정책의 대상으로서만 다루어졌고, ‘식민지수탈론’의 관점이 강하여 전통적인 촌락의 자치질서가 일제에 의해 관치질서로 재편ㆍ왜곡된다고 이해하였다. 반면에 최근의 연구는 농민층의 자율적 행위와 선택의 가능성을 시야에 넣고 식민 권력과 촌락의 긴장 관계를 통해 식민지근대의 성격을 밝히고자 한다. 근대비판의 관점에서 촌락 연구를 통해 식민지근대의 양상과 특성을 비판적으로 이해하려는 최근 연구에서는 ① 촌락에 대한 식민지배의 관철 정도와 성격, ② 촌락 내부질서의 변화 양상과 정도, ③ 식민지근대의 진전 속에서도 촌락에 존속되는 전통적 요소의 성격 등이 쟁점이었다. 이 글에서는 이러한 문제를 검토하면서 ‘아래로부터’의 접근과 이를 통한 식민지근대 인식의 심화라는 두 가지를 앞으로의 촌락 연구 방향으로 제시하고, 그것을 수행하기 위한 구체적인 문제들을 짚어보았다.
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