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13:15-15:15, May 17 (Sunday)

Session 5. Ages of Emergency

Max Ward (New York University) “The Logic of Ambiguity: The Japanese Peace Preservation Law and the Category of Kokutai
Lim Tae-hun (Sungkyunkwan University) “Threat and coexistence - Essay on Jang Hyeok-Ju’s Threat
Zhuo Liu (New York University) “Plural Present as the Origin of Revolution: Mao’s conceptualization of ‘Present’ in the Chinese Civil War period (1945-1950)”

Moderator: Naveh Frumer (UTCP)


“The Logic of Ambiguity: The Japanese Peace Preservation Law and the Category of Kokutai
Max Ward (Department of History, New York University)

In Political Theology (1922), Carl Schmitt argues that the “state of exception” is not simply a category applied to an objective situation of emergency, but rather is an inherent presupposition that grounds the juridical norm. With this argument, Schmitt displaced the conventional binary of external political necessity/internal juridical law by theorizing the ‘state of emergency’ and its corollary, the sovereign decision, as contradictorily being both internally constitutive and yet in excess of the legal order. In other words, Schmitt locates a fissure in the supposedly seamless space of the constitutional state – a void that structures the juridical norm itself. While Schmitt himself expressed a fascist politic in his desire for the sovereign decision, the paradoxes of the modern nation-state that he raised continue to provide a valuable problematic for theoretical and historical reflection. My paper is a preliminary consideration of the issues raised by Schmitt through an analysis of the 1925 Japanese Peace Preservation Law (治安維持法), focusing particularly on the ambiguity of its central object of preservation, the Kokutai (国体). Conventionally defined as the ‘national polity’, Kokutai was left juridically undefined, vaguely indexing the location of sovereignty in the eternal unbroken line of the imperial household. As an entire juridical and police apparatus developed from this law, the ambiguity of the category ‘Kokutai’ vexed police and bureaucratic administrators who attempted to identify what constituted a threat against it. Rather than hindering the application of the law, I will argue that this ambiguity was the law’s primary driving force, one that exposes a fissure at the center of the prewar Japanese state-form.

“Threat and coexistence - Essay on Jang Hyeok-Ju’s Threat
Lim Tae-hun (Sungkyunkwan University)

This article attempts to analyze the work of Jang Hyeok-Ju’s Threat presented in 1953 and examination of issues like ‘Korean residents Community in Japan’, ‘nationality’ and ‘nationalism’ in Japan during the U.S. Army Military Occupation period after the World War II. Jang Hyeok-Ju of Joseon the previous dynasty or name of Korea during the Japanese rule of Joseon was a writer who acted as Japanese language writer in Japanese literary world ever since his novel was first posted to Kaizo, a literary magazine of Japan in 1932. However, among Korean literary circle, not only he was treated as a heretic but also even his competence itself as writer was distrusted. Even after Korea was liberated from Japan in 1945, he was treated only as a pro-Japanese writer and was not given any opportunity to be duly evaluated through the works for long time. In particular, although Threat is a novel that covers the confession of the most sensitive part of Jang Hyeok-Ju’s private life, the work could not draw any particular attention of researchers, but only managed to be introduced intermittently as ‘an excuse for his pro-Japanese collaboration’. However, this article paid particular attention to this work as a eyewitness coverage of ‘Korean residents Society in Japan’ that had to bear the structural contradiction of East Asia during Cold War period within the existential life itself. Jang Hyeok-Ju depicts this issue through the eyes of a border person that belongs neither among ‘Koreans in Japan’ nor among ‘Japanese’ by presenting an autobiographical protagonist ‘Jang Gwang-Seong’.
The plot of Threat reels out along two main axes: history of discord that Jang Gwang-Seong had to experience in Japan during the U.S. Army Military Occupation period with ‘Association of Koreans in Japan’ an organization of Koreans in Japan, and reminiscence of the days during which he collaborated with Japanese empire before 1945. On the other hand, the work also provokes idea what started the underlying contradiction that Korean could not build up one unified nation despite the defeat of Japan. In fact, no body that appears in Threat stands away from pressure that comes from issues like 'ethnicity', 'nation' and 'ideology' placed upon the structure of enmity and conflict such as the antagonism in the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet in East Asia, the opposition between South Korea and North Korea that had to carry out the bitter vicarious war that ensued from such antagonism, and the separation and dissention among the society of Koreans in Japan.
Jang Gwang-Seong the border person came to receive an assassination menace letter from an organization of Koreans in Japan after he naturalized to become a Japanese. Shivering with terror after receiving assassination menace letter, he on the other hand would doubt the reality of the menace letter. Jang Gwang-Seong was aware that those who hate him see from him only what they want to see. Hatred toward 'national traitor' like Jang Gwang-Seong confirms the ideological identity that they chose. In other words, Jang Gwang-Seong was an ideological asset while being an object of hatred to them.
When affirming the value of 'Joseon', 'people of Joseon' and 'nation' requires some model, there is in reality no existence that exactly matches such model and rather in the course of attempting to presume such existence, paranoiac fabrication of 'nationalism' is indispensable. And the work attempts to clarify at the same time that such fabrication was due to the structure of East Asia during Cold War period rather than simply due to problem within the society of Joseon people in Japan.

“Plural Present as the Origin of Revolution: Mao’s conceptualization of ‘Present’ in the Chinese Civil War period (1945-1950)”
Zhuo Liu (East Asian Studies, New York University)

This paper is aimed to reflect upon the conceptualization of “present” by examining Mao’s seminal articles written during Chinese civil war period. Rather than taking Mao’s works as the holy script and reiterating the historical necessity of CCP’s victory as acclaimed by CCP official history, I would examine how Mao (CCP) mobilized the whole nation and open a historic moment of “revolution”, in which his conceptualization of “present” played a pivotal role. My reflection on “present” and “revolution”, in the context of Chinese civil war and the case of Mao’s writing particularly, is driven by three questions, which also constitutes the three parts of this paper. Firstly, the plural present(s) derives from the social antagonism and inequality. In this sense, I would render Benjamin’s definitions of two “present(s)” in his historical materialism as a reference to Mao’s stance on this historical disjunction. Revolution is about denying the “present” which is located in the duration of homogeneous empty time, and restoring the “present” which is associated with a radical separation with the past. With the illumination of Benjamin’s latter conception of “the present”, secondly, I would focus on the spirit of “Carry the Revolution through the end”, and attempt to argue that revolution is the reaffirmation of a new “present” in a manner of anti-historicism. In the concrete historical context, revolution can be connoted as the effort of building a “new China”, which I would stress that a relation between “present” and futuristic orientation has been established; thirdly is the dimension of “locality”. The radical break from historicism and the affirmation of a new “present” cannot be fully accomplished within the temporal parameter. Mao’s way is to ask “who’s present”, which I would argue refers to a macro historical project of “the people” emerging as the political subject of Chinese revolution.

© UTCP Graduate Student Conference Committee, 2009.