Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Who's History is it Anyway?

A page on George Mason's History New Network provides some enlightening discussion and history behind the so-called "History Wars" between Korea and China. The informaztion is from research of a fellow at the East West Institute and to me brings great context to if people and land can be technically called a part of a current, modern state when examining purely ancient history.
In the article, the "Northeast Project" professor Larsen breifly mentioned last week is traced back from its roots when promanent Chinese historians in the late 1980's began to suggest that Koguryo was an entity separate from Korea's Three Kingdoms. The main argument from the China camp is that Koguryo was ethically made up of minorities from China baring no connect to the development of Korea. Is China simply trying to identify themselves or is it simply an agressive move by the Chinese to establish unquestionable sovergenty at the China/ Korea border? This is where the history can be extrapolated and manipulated for political and national gain at the expense of the truth or neutral academia. The "Northeast Project" is a subject where North and South Korea can band together to make progress due to united interests. The marketing campaign of Koguryo mechandise displays this drive. But can an area of land retain and expose its Chineseness or Koreaness enough to be seen as the contemporary truth?
Asserting ownership of history based on ethnicity and ethnic influence is dangerous because it negates the collaborative effort of academia which at the core should be in pursuit of knowledge and not political foder. The mere fact that the Koguryo Tombs are co-registered as UNESCO World Heritage site for both China and North Korea exposes that in East Asia soverignty and identity are perceived in total proximity to ancient past. Next thing you know, Japan's Buddhist Temple at Nara will be taken as more Korean herritage than Japanese due to the heavy influence of Buddhism originating from Korea to Japan and the stylistic structure being so connected to Korean temples.

1 comment:

Justin-B형 said...

We In the US and western Europe have struggled with the idea of taking historical ownership throughout history.
In fact arguments over Columbus' "discovery" of land that was previously occupied and the subsequent naming of this territory "the new world" despite the indigenous occupation for centuries before is proof of this struggle with ownership. We STILL haven't fully addressed many issues.
I think when there is conflicts the winners truly do right the history.
It often takes centuries for parties to come to some sort of consensus on:
1)What really happened
2)Who was really involved
3)When (if ever) did this event actually take place
4)Where was it
etc etc...
I'm glad that there is a group like UNESCO that addresses these issues.

Anyway, I had to throw my 2 cents in (with that you can $1 you may be able to buy a candy bar)
Good post!