Imperatives of Care: Women and Medicine in Colonial Korea

Paperback: $28.00
ISBN-13: 9780824888404
Published: July 2020
Hardback: $62.00
ISBN-13: 9780824855451
Published: January 2019

Additional Information

240 pages
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  • About the Book
  • In late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Korea, public health priorities in maternal and infant welfare privileged the new nation’s reproductive health and women’s responsibility for care work to produce novel organization of services in hospitals and practices in the home. The first monograph on this topic, Imperatives of Care places women and gender at the center of modern medical transformations in Korea. It outlines the professionalization of medicine, nursing, and midwifery, tracing their evolution from new legal and institutional infrastructures in public health and education, and investigates women’s experiences as health practitioners and patients, medical activities directed at women’s bodies, and the related knowledge and goods produced for and consumed by women. Sonja M. Kim draws on archival sources, some not previously explored, to foreground the ways individual women met challenges posed by uneven developments in medicine, intervened in practices aimed at them, andseized the evolving options that became available to promote their personal, familial, and professional interests. She demonstrates how medicine produced, and in turn was produced by, gendered expectations caught between the Korean reformist agenda, the American Protestant missionary enterprise, and Japanese imperialism.

  • Contributors
    • Sonja M. Kim is associate professor of Asian and Asian American studies at the State University of New York, Binghamton.
  • Reviews and Endorsements
    • Kim makes a major contribution to our understanding of Korean modernity by creating a narrative that places the late Chosŏn dynasty, including the period of the Empire, into conversation with the Protectorate and direct Japanese colonial rule. . . . Highly recommended.
      —S. A. Hastings, Purdue University, CHOICE, August 2019 (Vol. 56 No. 12)
    • Sonja M. Kim’s book, Imperatives of Care: Women and Medicine in Colonial Korea, is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of women, medical science, education, or missionaries in late Chosŏn (1876–1910) and colonial Korea (1910–1945). Kim explains this period was particularly important because while medicine has a long-established history in Korea, biomedicine in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries had a profound impact on how women’s bodies were newly understood, regulated, and treated.She examines changing perceptions of womanhood and public health practices vis-à-vis Korean nationalism, Japanese imperialism, and Christian evangelism through women’s experiences in 'health and female education, professionalization of female medical workers, and women’s and infants’ health care and therapeutics.'
      —Jennifer Jung-Kim, University of California, Los Angeles, Public Affairs (93:1)