Tributary Twilight and the Global Modern: Lost Visions of Qing-Chosŏn Relations in the Late Nineteenth Century

Part of the One Asia Forum Talk Series

Joshua Van Lieu 1

With guest speaker Professor Joshua Van Lieu (LaGrange College)

Thursday, 17 November, 2016
4:00 pm – 6:00pm
Room 461, Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, 1961 East Mall

Open to the public. All are welcome.

Chosŏn and Qing discussions of their relationship from the mid-1870s to the early 1880s suggest strategic understandings of existing institutions and their limitations as informed by the rapidly changing geopolitical, economic, and technological geographies of the day. Indeed, the debates of this period produced a new vision of the Qing-Chosŏn relationship that would have eliminated large swaths of tributary practice in an effort to enable Chosŏn to participate in the currents of the global modern on its own terms and thereby become a strong albeit junior partner of the Qing Empire in world affairs. This future of bounty and vitality, however, was to become a vision doubly lost, first by virtue of Qing military occupation and political interventions and then again through generations of occidentalist elision in the fields of history and IR alike. This paper recovers this vision with particular attention to its embrace of the global modern as a move toward a critical pluralism that creates disciplinary dialogues between history and critical IR.

About the speaker: Dr. Van Lieu is a historian of early modern and modern East Asian politics, thought, and international relations. He received his doctoral degree from the University of Washington in the histories of Chosŏn Korea and Late Imperial China. Having served as assistant editor and book review editor of The Journal of Korean Studies, Dr. Van Lieu currently is an assistant professor and the Curriculum Director for Asian Studies at LaGrange College.  He has published on nineteenth-century Qing-Chosŏn tribute politics, the historiography of reform movements in late Chosŏn Korea, the roles of state Guanti cults in Ming, Qing, and Chosŏn narratives of state legitimacy, and critical approaches to historical international relations.