Donald L. Baker
Ph.D., University of Washington, 1983
MA., University of Washington, 1977
Professor in Korean History and Civilization
He received his Ph.D. in Korean history from the University of Washington and has taught at UBC since 1987. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Korean history and thought (religion, philosophy, and pre-modern science). In addition, he teaches a graduate seminar on the reproduction of historical trauma in Asia, in which he leads graduate students in an examination of how traumatic events in Asia in the 20th century, such as the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the bombing of Hiroshima, partition of India, China’s Cultural Revolution, and the killing fields of Cambodia have been reproduced in eyewitness accounts, historiography, fiction, and film.
He was a co-editor of the Sourcebook of Korean Civilization and editor of Critical Readings on Korean Christianity. He is also the author of Chosŏn hugi yugyo wa ch’ǒnjugyo ŭi taerip (The Confucian confrontation with Catholicism in the latter half of the Joseon dynasty), published by Iljogak in 1997, Korean Spirituality (University of Hawaii Press, 2008), and Catholics and Anti-Catholicism in Chosŏn Korea (University of Hawaii Press, 2017). He will soon publish How to be Moral, an annotated translation of a commentary by Tasan Chŏng Yagyong on the Zhongyong.
Korea cultural history, with a special focus on philosophical, religious, and scientific change since 1700.
Memory and trauma in regard to the Kwangju Resistance in May, 1980, in South Korea.
A Korean Confucian’s Advice on How to Be Moral: Tasan Chŏng Yagyong’s Reading of the Zhongyong (University of Hawaii Press, 2023)
Catholics and Anti-Catholicism in Chosŏn Korea (University of Hawaii Press) with Franklin Rausch. May, 2017.
Korean Spirituality (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008)
Chosŏn Hugi Yugyo wa Ch’ŏnjugyo ŭi Taerip [The Confucian Confrontation with Catholicism in the Latter Half of the Chosŏn Dynasty] (Seoul: Iljogak Publishing Co., 1997).
Critical Readings on Christianity in Korea. (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV 2014.)
Don Baker, Larry DeVries, and Dan Overmyer, co-editors, Asian Religions in British Columbia (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010).
Don Baker, Chang Yun-shik and Seok Hyun-ho, co-editors, Korea Confronts Globalization, (Routledge, 2008)
Don Baker and Kim Han-kyo, ed. Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Volume II (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996)
Recent Book Chapters
“The Zhongyong through a Theistic Lens: Tasan Chŏng Yagyong on How to be Moral.” Michael R. Slater, Erin M. Cline, and Philip J. Ivanhoe, ed. Confucianism and Catholicism : Reinvigorating the dialogue, (Notre Dame Press June, 2020), 61-83
“The Contours of Korea’s Cultural history” A Companion to Korean Art edited by J.P. Park, Burglind Jungmann, and Juhyung Rhi, (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020), 1-25.
“Kwangju, Trauma, and the Problem of Objectivity in History-Writing” in Michael Robinson and Seung-kyung Kim, ed. Peace Corps Volunteers and the Making of Korean Studies in the United Studies (University of Washington Press, 2020) , 9-29.
“Zhu Xi and Korean Philosophy” pp. 739-761, and “Zhu Xi and Western Philosophy,” pp. 785-806. In Kai-chiu Ng and Yong Huang, ed. Dao Companion to Zhu Xi’s Philosophy Springer, 2020.
“What is Korean about Korean Confucianism?” pp. 47-71, and “Western Learning and New Directions in Korean Neo-Confucianism,” 337-361, Dao Companion to Korean Confucianism, edited by Young-chan Roh. Springer, 2019
“Religious Diversity in Korea” in Jørn Borup, etc. Religious Diversity in Asia Brill, 2019, 23-47
Dahn Wŏltŭ,” in Lukas Pokorny, ed. Handbook of East Asian New Religious Movements Leiden: Brill, 2018, 382-400.
Cinnabar-field meditation in Korea” in Halvor Eifring, ed. Meditation and Culture: The Interplay of Practice and Context. London: Bloomsbury Academic. 2015. 162-171.
“Memory Wars and Prospects for Reconciliation in South Korea” in Mikyoung Kim ed, Routledge Handbook of Memory and Reconciliation in East Asia. Routledge, 2015. 111-127.
Recent Journal Articles
“The Korean Dilemma: Assuming Perfectibility but Recognizing Moral Frailty” Acta Koreana 22:2 (Dec. 2019), 287-304.
“Prioritizing Ki: The Shift Toward Energy and Transformation that Emerged in 19th Century Korea,” Journal of Koreanology (Hanguk Minjok Munhwa) 61 (2016), 123-150.
“The Emergence of a Religious Market in Twentieth-Century Korea” Review of Korean Studies. 19:1 (June, 2016), 7-39
*“Privatization of Buddhism in the Chosŏn Dynasty” Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 14:2 (October, 2014), pp. 1-17.
*“Rhetoric, Ritual, and Political Legitimacy: Justifying Yi Seong-gye’s Ascension to the Throne.” Korea Journal, 53:4 (winter 2013): 141-167.
“Tasan’s Pragmatic Approach to the Confucian Classics,” Tasanhak 22 (June, 2013), pp.107-142
“The Transformation of the Catholic Church in Korea: From a Missionary Church to an Indigenous Church,” Journal of Korean Religions, 4: 1 (April, 2013) pp. 11-42.
“Finding God in the Classics: The Theistic Confucianism of Dasan Jeong Yagyong” Dao: a Journal of Comparative Philosophy. 12: 1 (March 2013), pp. 41-55
“Impotent Numbers: Korean Confucian Reactions to Jesuit Mathematics” The Korean Journal for the History of Science, 34:2 (2012), 227-56
In 2008, he was awarded the Tasan prize for his research on Tasan Chŏng Yagyong, a writer and philosopher in Korea in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 2015 his article on how the founder of Korea’s Chosŏn dynasty legitimized his seizure of power in 1392 was named the best article published in Korea Journal in 2013-14.