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State of the field seminar: National history, public memory and the politics of remembrance in contemporary Korea


Admission requirements

No language requirement. A background in modern and contemporary history of Korea and East Asia would be beneficial.


One important aspect of South Korea’s democratization process, since 1988, has been the demand for and debate about “settling the past”. Initially referring to various legacies of Japanese colonial rule, this phrase gradually came to include cases of state violence during the entire period of authoritarian rule (1948-1987). With the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Korea (TRCK, 2006-2010) concluded, this seminar takes the issue of “settling the past” to raise questions about the conceptual and political nature of national history and the dynamic relationship between the construction of national history and public memory, and to engage the issue of national identity formation and power politics in the management of the memorial landscape.
MA students are required to contribute a discussion paper to the Third Intensive Course for Graduate Students on the subject of History, Memory and the Politics of Memorialization in Contemporary Korea, Leiden, 24-27 October, 2011.

Course objectives

The aim of this seminar is to achieve a deeper understanding of Korea’s contemporary history, to raise critical awareness about the constructed and formative nature of readily applied concepts as “nation”, “Korea” and the like, and to stimulate reflection about how commemorations contribute to the construction of communal identities and why this matters.

Time table

For more information, check timetable

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

  • 1,500 word discussion paper to presented during international intensive course (24-27 October) (35%),

  • Oral presentation during seminar (25%) and

  • research essay (40%)



Reading list

To be announced on blackboard; partly to be decided in consultation with the students.


Via uSis

Contact information

Please contact Dr. K. De Ceuster


Course load

  • 2 hours a week for 12 weeks,

  • 40 hours intensive course and workshop,

  • 220 hours preparation for classes and writing of discussion paper and essay.