Tuskegee in Korea: Afro-Asian “Uplift” in the Age of Empire

Event time: 
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall (LUCE ), 203 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

In the mid-1900s, American missionaries employed the industrial vision of the Black intellectual Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) to instill in Koreans the ideas of “civilization and enlightenment” and economic development. Notably, American mission workers juxtaposed the situations of dispossessed African Americans with those of Koreans. This equation created the conditions through which a rhetoric of “uplift” could be articulated through their similar status on an imagined scale of race and progress. The Korean leader Yun Ch’i-ho (1865-1945), while occasionally criticizing the hypocrisy of white Christians, embraced this form of Protestant paternalism as he endeavored to “modernize” Korea. This talk examines the dissemination of Booker T. Washington’s life stories and uplift ideologies by American missionaries and Yun Ch’i-ho, inviting you to consider the dynamics of comparative racial formation at the dawn of Korean modernity.
Jang Wook Huh is Assistant Professor of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington. He is currently completing a book on the literary and cultural connections between Black liberation struggles in the United States and anticolonial movements in Korea during the Japanese and American occupations.