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Integration Processes in the Circulation of Knowledge

Cases from Korea

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Edited By Marion Eggert and Florian Pölking

Korea, geographically situated at cultural crossroads, has a long history of creative engagement with knowledge from outside sources. This volume discusses processes of knowledge integration – of interpretive adaptation, dissection, selection and re-assemblage, of reduction and amplification, as well as of blending with existing cognitive structures – in pre-modern and early modern times. The articles assembled deal with a wide range of sources (including material objects as carriers of knowledge) and with diverse fields of knowledge, spanning the realms of philosophy, religion, literature, military and technical knowledge, and political thought. Together, they richly illustrate the transformative powers inherent in re-configurations of knowledge.
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Felix Siegmund - Integration and Re-structuring of Military Knowledge in 17th and 18th century Korea

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Felix Siegmund

Integration and Re-structuring of Military Knowledge in 17th and 18th century Korea

Abstract This article deals with secondary transformations of military knowledge in the early part of Late Chosŏn Korea by focusing on two cases: the military theory of Qi Jiguang and Manchu military techniques. It discusses the process of knowledge integration and textual adaption, obstacles to this process, and the ensuing social transformations.

Introduction

The wars of the Hideyoshi Invasion and the conquest of China by the Jurchen/Manchu led to fundamental changes in military practice in East Asia. Military knowledge was exchanged between all involved actors in the region through a number of channels. At the abstract level, at the end of the wars, the whole of East Asia possessed a common pool of knowledge upon which military theory and the construction of military knowledge systems could draw. The wars in the period of the late 16th and early 17th century can thus be said to have played the role of powerful catalysts for a unified East Asian military system. But at the concrete level,1 this pool of knowledge was not equally accessible everywhere.2 Social, regional, and local factors influenced what was available under the actual circumstances faced by the individual or collective actors of military practice. Just as today, knowledge did in fact not diffuse down to everyone, or, in the words of Terry Eagleton, “the rich are global and the poor are...

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