Dissertation Research: Compressed Modernity?: American Expertise and South Korean State Science, 1945-1976 View Homepage


Ontology type: schema:MonetaryGrant     


Grant Info

YEARS

2004-2007

FUNDING AMOUNT

11350 USD

ABSTRACT

This Science and Technology Dissertation Improvement Grant considers the transformation of the physical sciences in an international context during the Cold War, using Korea as an historical case study. In the aftermath of the Korean War (1950-1953), according to newspaper sources, American investment in South Korea (or ROK, the Republic of Korea) represented the single largest United States aid project anywhere in the world. Moreover, much of the aid conveyed was mobilized under the rubric of science whether in the form of visiting researchers, instruments, or the introduction of new methods and materials constituting a vast program of technical cooperation undertaken in support of the rebuilding nation. Starting from a developmental model, relief efforts concentrated initially on promoting an agricultural / biomedical base, and by the late 1960.s, South Korean state institutions were beginning to pursue areas of inquiry in technical fields, transforming their results into new industrial applications. In the Korean case, the project asks what factors contributed to the rapid shift from an agricultural / biomedical base to new forms of engineering and technology within two decades. Moreover, given this transition in outlook, what forms did the new areas of priority, including materials science, electronics, chemical engineering and mechanical engineering by the late 1960's take in their new location? How was scientific activity in Korea transformed by groups of local actors, rather than simply conveyed or transferred to the site by American scientists? To analyze the introduction of new practices, the project will trace the historical origins of the two major institutions critical to the nation's rapid technological development: Seoul National University (1946- ) and KIST (1966- ), or Korea Institute of Science and Technology. The former was created by American occupation authorities in 1946 from the facilities of Keijo Imperial University (1928-1945), and was modeled on the land-grant university. KIST, on the other hand, was funded partly by USAID, and represented an attempt to promote the development of a local scientific infrastructure by facilitating technology transfer. This effort was followed soon thereafter by the creation of KAIS (Korea Advanced Institute of Science) in 1971, a graduate institution devoted primarily to training in the physical sciences. The project begins with the history of recent technology, focusing specifically on the introduction and integration of new scientific approaches as part of a comprehensive effort to transform South Korea at three points in time: 1) in the aftermath of World War II (1945-1948), 2) following the Korean War (1954-1962), 3) and in the early 1960.s (1961-1976), after ROK President Park had assumed power. Though ostensibly a narrative of transfer, the project ultimately places the physical sciences in the context of the three significant bodies of literature: 1) the literature on Science and Empire, 2) as well as science education, and 3) recent work on the science city. (e.g., Tsukuba-si in Japan, or Novosibirsk in the former Soviet Union). Nations which concentrate on immediate pragmatic goals such as industrial development often have to adopt a very different style of practice, placing scientific activity in dialogue with questions of power and national interest. NSF funding will support trips to archives in the two Korean institutions cited above. More... »

URL

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