Kyongju Things

Assembling Place
Robert Oppenheim
A historical ethnography of place amidst objects in the contemporary city of Kyongju, South Korea

Description

Kyongju is South Korea's preeminent "culture city," an urban site rich with archaeological wonders that residents compare to those of Nara, Xian, and Rome. By examining these ancient objects in relation to the controversies that engulfed South Korea's high-speed railway line when it was first proposed in the 1990s, Kyongju Things offers a grounded and theoretically sophisticated account of South Korean development and citizenship in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Its sensitivity to issues of place, knowledge, and cultural heritage and its innovative use of network theory will be of interest to a wide range of scholars in anthropology, Asian studies, the history of science and technology, cultural geography, urban planning, and political science.

"A tale of South Korea's new politics involving antiquarians, weekend hikers, activists, and entrepreneurs, told with wit and theoretical sophistication."
---Laurel Kendall, Curator, Division of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History

"In Kyongju Things, Robert Oppenheim employs an innovative theoretical blend to insightfully illuminate the interactions of agency and objects in the making of a 'place.'"
---Roger L. Janelli, Professor Emeritus, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology, Indiana University

"Kyongju Things is responsible, pathbreaking, and ambitious, with a stunning and welcoming introduction . . . Oppenheim calls upon a theoretical tool kit that allows him to productively re-think place, locality, technology, things, and subjectivity in ways that really do challenge the existing scholarship on South Korea. Kyongju Things will make a splash in Korean studies."
---Nancy Abelmann, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of Echoes of the Past, Epics of Dissent: A South Korean Social Movement

Robert Oppenheim is Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Praise / Awards

  • "Kyongju Things is responsible, path-breaking, and ambitious, with a stunning and welcoming introduction: as an outsider to the theory that Oppenheim employs I now feel intrigued and energized to LEARN. This is a compelling book that many readers will wrestle with productively. Oppenheim calls upon a theoretical tool kit that allows him to productively re-think place, locality, technology, things, and subjectivity in ways that really do challenge the existing scholarship on South Korea. Kyongju Things will make a splash in Korean studies."
    —Nancy Abelmann, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and author of Echoes of the Past, Epics of Dissent: A South Korean Social Movement

  • "Kyongju Things is lively, providing an engaging account of Kyongju things that draws the reader into a variety of conversations, complications, and conundra. We are a party to arguments about urban planning, conversations about authentic versus merely political rituals, discussions of itineraries and sights, and suspicions about self-interest and motives. A fascinating and thought-provoking read."
    —DJ Hatfield, Associate in Research, Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University

  • "Thus, while the use of ANT seems merely rhetorical, one of the great successes of the book, is illuminating the domestic, regional, and urban politics of South Korea in a way that raises a key set of analytic questions to help understand the rich dynamics of Korean technological and cultural striations."
    —M. M. J. Fischer, East Asian Science, Technology and Society: an International Journal

Look Inside

Copyright © 2008, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted April 2008.

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Classroom Resources

Discussion Questions | Word doc

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 296pp.
  • 15 B&W photographs, 9 line drawings.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05030-7

Add to Cart
  • $28.95 U.S.

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Keywords

  • Anthropology, Asian Studies, History of Science and Technology, Cultural Geography, Urban Planning, Political Science, Ethnography, Assembling Place, Korean Studies, Modern  History

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