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Blood, Paper, and Spit: The Korean War through the Prism of the Interrogation Room

Date and Time: 
Friday, April 12, 2019. 04:30 PM - 06:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center Boardroom
Workshop: 
Cold War In Asia: Culture, Technology, History
Meeting Description: 

Through the interrogation rooms of the Korean War, this talk demonstrates how the individual human subject became both the terrain and the jus ad bellum for this critical U.S. war of ‘intervention’ in postcolonial Korea. In 1952, with the U.S. introduction of the voluntary POW repatriation proposal at Panmunjom, the interrogation room and the POW became a flashpoint for an international controversy ultimately about postcolonial sovereignty and political recognition.

The ambitions of empire, revolution and non-alignment converged upon this intimate encounter of military warfare: the interrogator and the interrogated prisoner of war. Which state could supposedly reinvent the most intimate power relation between the colonizer and the colonized, to transform the relationship between the state and subject into one of liberation, democracy or freedom? Tracing two generations of people across the Pacific as they navigate multiple kinds of interrogation from the 1940s and 1950s, this talk lays outs a landscape of interrogation – a dense network of violence, bureaucracy, and migration – that breaks apart the usual temporal bounds of the Korean War as a discrete event.

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