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David Fedman
Regents of the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA 92617-3066)

Summer Stipends
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 10/30/2017

Forestry and the Politics of Conservation in Colonial Korea, 1910-1945

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on conservationism and forest management in colonial Korea, 1910-1945.

This project examines Japanese efforts to rehabilitate, exploit, and showcase Korea’s forests during the period of colonial rule (1910-1945). Building on previous studies of the tangled roots of empire and conservationism, I argue that the forestry enterprise in colonial Korea was as concerned with the seed as it was with the saw: it placed reforestation at the very heart of its efforts to modernize the Korean landscape and the ecological sensibilities of its inhabitants. But forest reclamation in Korea was far from benevolent: it siphoned off forests to Japanese corporations, cut off communities from resources that had long sustained them, and placed vast stands of timber under state control. Afforestation, in other words, was a process rife with conflict and fraught with contradiction. By chronicling this intensive, contested, and largely forgotten forestry project, this book offers a path-breaking case study in the promise and perils of natural resource management in Japan’s empire.