Rules of the House offers a dynamic revisionist account of the Japanese colonial rule of Korea (1910–1945) by examining the roles of women in the civil courts. Challenging the dominant view that women were victimized by the Japanese family laws and its patriarchal biases, Sungyun Lim argues that Korean women had to struggle equally against Korean patriarchal interests. Moreover, women were not passive victims; instead, they proactively struggled to expand their rights by participating in the Japanese colonial legal system. In turn, the Japanese doctrine of promoting progressive legal rights would prove advantageous to them. Following female plaintiffs and their civil disputes from the precolonial Chosŏn dynasty through the colonial period and into the postcolonial era, this book presents a new and groundbreaking story about Korean women’s legal struggles, revealing their surprising collaborative relationship with the colonial state.
“A timely and fascinating study, demonstrating the complex interplay between gender politics and empire building through the examination of the legal construction of the ideal modern family that was deeply implicated with the invention or appropriation of tradition. A major contribution to gender history, empire studies, and legal studies.” HYAEWEOL CHOI, author of Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways
“Challenges the conventional nationalist narrative of colonial Korea and restores agency to female plaintiffs and defendants. It should be read not only by those interested in colonial Korea and the Japanese empire, but also by historians of comparative and colonial law, the family, and gender.” SUSAN L. BURNS, Professor of History, University of Chicago
SUNGYUN LIM is Assistant Professor of Modern Korean and Japanese History at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Lim, S. 2019. Rules of the House: Family Law and Domestic Disputes in Colonial Korea. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.60
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