Seeds of Control
Japan’s Empire of Forestry in Colonial Korea
- PUBLISHED: July 2020
- SUBJECT LISTING: History / Environmental History, Asian Studies / Japan, Asian Studies / Korea, Environmental Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 320 Pages, 6 x 9 in, 14 b&w illus., 4 maps, 3 charts
- SERIES: Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books
- ISBN: 9780295747453
- Publisher: University of Washington Press
Japanese colonial rule in Korea (1905–1945) ushered in natural resource management programs that profoundly altered access to and ownership of the peninsula’s extensive mountains and forests. Under the banner of “forest love,” the colonial government set out to restructure the rhythms and routines of agrarian life, targeting everything from home heating to food preparation. Timber industrialists, meanwhile, channeled Korea’s forest resources into supply chains that grew in tandem with Japan’s imperial sphere. These mechanisms of resource control were only fortified after 1937, when the peninsula and its forests were mobilized for total war.
In this wide-ranging study David Fedman explores Japanese imperialism through the lens of forest conservation in colonial Korea—a project of environmental rule that outlived the empire itself. Holding up for scrutiny the notion of conservation, Seeds of Control examines the roots of Japanese ideas about the Korean landscape, as well as the consequences and aftermath of Japanese approaches to Korea’s “greenification.” Drawing from sources in Japanese and Korean, Fedman writes colonized lands into Japanese environmental history, revealing a largely untold story of green imperialism in Asia.
Authors & Contributors
David Fedman is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Irvine.
[A] welcome contribution to the literature on Japanese colonialism and “green imperialism.” Seeds of Control is a lively and timely work. Non-specialist readers will find it approachable and informative. Specialists in Japanese and Korean history will find Seeds of Control useful to think and teach with. It is an excellent example of what environmental history can bring to the study of nation and empire in East Asia.- Agricultural History
Seeds of Control is a must-read text for anyone interested in the complexity and interplay of colonial and environmental history.- Environmental History
David Fedman presents the first environmental history monograph in English detailing Japanese colonial forestry policies and practices in Korea. The book is deeply and widely researched—incorporating archival, published, and scholarly sources in Korean, Japanese, and English—and is engagingly written.- European Journal of Korean Studies
Through its comprehensive evaluation of the successes and failures of Japan’s environmental governance, Seeds of Control speaks to the current situation in an innovative and persuasive manner, for it reveals a new horizon or internal limit for the exercise of power.- Journal of Asian Studies
[E]xcellent, detailed, and carefully composed research.- Seoul Journal of Korea Studies
Seeds of Control is a thought-provoking, well-written study, thoroughly grounded in both Japanese and Korean sources. It is a pleasure to read.- Journal of Japanese Studies
[A] remarkable work that will surely appeal to an academic audience.- The Middle Ground Journal
Seeds of Control is a vital book for scholars interested in the environmental history of colonial Korea, the general history of Korea, and the connected histories of wider East Asia. It is particularly vital due to its approach to vectors for imperialism or colonization, which have not been widely considered previously. Fedman's approach is rooted in a detailed examination of primary source materials, particularly those produced in Keijō by the government-general at the time, in both Japanese and English, as well as other primary material published elsewhere in the Japanese empire.- Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies
Dexterous, skillful work—essential reading on the Japanese empire, environmental history in East Asia, and the modern history of Korea and Japan.- Aaron S. Moore, author of Constructing East Asia: Technology, Ideology, and Empire in Japan’s Wartime Era 1931–1945
The author does a splendid job of pulling in readers through his rich writing. Even though it is set in Korea and East Asia, Seeds of Control is a platform for studying pressing issues in environmental history/studies.- Albert L. Park, author of Building a Heaven on Earth: Religion, Activism, and Protest in Japanese Occupied Korea