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Antiseptic religion : missionary medicine in 1885-1910 Korea

The thesis explores the intersection between medicine and religion in the context of colonisation in Korea in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. I will focus on the work of medical missionaries from Europe and North America that pursued perfect cleanliness in body, mind and society, including total abstinence and spiritual cleanliness, by spreading biomedical concept of hygiene. One of the points that I will articulate is the ways in which medicine as a colonising force in its own right worked in the mission field to produce 'the docile bodies of people' in the Foucauldian sense. I will argue that what mission medicine in Korea utilised and relied on for its work was a new concept of cleanliness based on biomedical knowledge, the germ theory, rather than the power of colonisation. It was because mission medicine in Korea often worked without collaborating with direct colonial powers. In this sense, Protestant Christianity and biomedicine shared a common foundation in 'cleanliness.' Consequently, I will try to emphasise the multi-dimensional and multi-directional role of the use of cleanliness as an efficacious tool for control of the body. In relation to the historiography of medicine in Korea, I will argue that Confucianism served the social and cultural control of bodies as a medicalised form and that Christianity tried to replace it by providing new knowledge concerning body, disease, health, and cleanliness. In the same respect, I will explore the historical relationship between the germ theory and missionary medicine in Korea. The germ theories of disease were not simply a new etiology but also an effective cultural implement to change people's lives. Thus, the theories did not simply remain in the realm of medicine but were introduced, disseminated, and applied to all matters relating to the body, including its mental and spiritual aspects, through the concept of cleanliness.
Date January 2017
CreatorsKim, Shin Kwon
ContributorsHarrison, Mark
PublisherUniversity of Oxford
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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