Invention without science "Korean Edisons" and the changing understanding of technology in colonial Korea

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Abstract

This paper examines the self-rooted invention practice of Korean inventors and its impact on colonial Korea during the 1920s and the 1930s to demonstrate how it transformed the colonial understanding of the newly introduced concept of invention. These self-made inventors, by imprinting colonial society with their modest invention through the cheerleading of "nationalistic" media, created a concept of invention that was rather native, socially-bound, and without science. Furthermore, a few colonial elites bound by colonial restraints came to envision technological development of Korea through these "small technology" without science, not through the imported innovative technologies like railroad and telegraph. By illuminating the roles of these various social processes in the unique reformulation of invention in colonial Korea, this paper emphasizes the historicity and cultural specificity of such a basic concept, as well as the importance of this kind of social analysis itself in understanding technology's place in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-814
Number of pages33
JournalTechnology and Culture
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2013

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