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Cours-conférence « Taking to the Street: Public space and the Democratic Uprisings of Gwangju, South Korea »

par Hacer Gönul, ULB, EASt


One distinctive feature of South Korean society has been its‘ taking to the street’ approach to contest alternative narratives of the nation. The public space has been an expression ground for Koreans to present their visions of the past and present. Such expressions in the public space take the form of local graffiti, mass candle vigils, popular remembrances of the Democratic Uprising as well as ritual observances at monuments. This lecture will focus on Gwangju City in South Korea. Gwangju is a city of around 1.5 million people, with a reputation for being the site of a bloody democratic uprising of local students against the government on 18 May 1980. This uprising was violently repressed by the dictator Park Il Sung and is remembered today as the Gwangju Massacre, the Gwangju Democratic Uprising or simply May 18. The Gwangju Democratic Uprising is of crucial significance for the development of democracy in South Korea. Despite hundreds of civilians having been cruelly massacred and tortured by the military, Gwangju turned into a potent symbol of state violence and people power. Thus, the legacy of this uprising has scared Korea’s political history for decades. In order to counter this adverse reputation, Gwangju’s local authorities initiated the international biennale exhibitions in 1995- 2002 (held four biennales during this time period) to replace its previous image as the site of a historical calamity with a new image of a city of art through its public spaces. This attempted transformation faced resistance from citizens who wanted to protect and develop Gwangju’s own political identity and image. I will use qualitative data which I have obtained during fieldwork conducted at the May 18 Institute of Chonnam University, where the Gwangju Democratic Uprising started, for three months 2016.

Hacer Z. Gonul is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology at Peking University and has spent over 10 years living in several cities across China. Simultaneously she engages in political science research at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She holds an MA in Sociology from Central China Normal University in Wuhan and completed a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Economy at Tongji University in Shanghai. Her master research was titled: « Chinese and Turkish Policy on Minorities – A comparative study between Kurdish and Uyghur”. She has also conducted research in the Hui communities of Wuhan and Beijing.  Her current research deals with Securitizing Wahhabi Islam among Chinese ethnic minority groups . Beyond her special interest in Chinese Wahhabism, her research interests include ethnicity, radicalization and social and cultural transformations in contemporary China with a special focus on Chinese Islam and Hui community.

Mardi 6 mars 2018 de 14h à 16h

Auditoire AY.2.112
Bâtiment A – Porte Y – 2e niveau – Local AY.2.112
Avenue F. Roosevelt 50
1050 Bruxelles

Entrée libre et gratuite, sans inscription

Titulaire du cours : Vanessa Frangville