Demographic Regimes

Comparison of Demographic Regimes

John DiMoia


The spraying of DDT to prevent the spread of epidemic disease became a common practice during the Korean War (1950-1953), and even earlier, during the USAMGIK occupation of Korea (1945-1948).

This project tracks the shifting concept of “population” as an element of record-keeping within East Asia, especially in the Korean context, where it went through several transformations that seem to acknowledge the impossibility of rectifying the various schemes that had been enforced in succession. In fact, criticism of an existing system as a basis for future reform has been used variously to justify elements of Japanese colonialism (1910–1945), American occupation (1945–1948), and a number of suggested reforms within an independent South Korea (1948–). Moreover, with its enthusiasm for Japanese-style technocracy, the Park Chung Hee state (1961–1979) emphasized the centrality of rich demographic information to a broad range of state-driven activities, including economic planning, family planning, and public health activities.

Rather than seeking to resolve the differences between these competing or succeeding demographic regimes, this project looks closely at the material and bureaucratic forms of practice through which population has been counted (the census, the family or household registration, the state-directed post-1948 censuses) in an effort to bridge the various political and ideological systems in place, looking at practice and the shifting notion of a collective.