On Soybeans

“On Soybeans,” in Kang Hŭimaeng, Kŭmyang chamnok [Miscellaneous records from Kŭmyang] (1491), 6a.

Project (2022-2024)

Chinese Theories, Korean Praxis, and Making the Most out of Nature: Cross-Border Science-Making in the Sinosphere

The project compares popular Chinese manuals in early Chosŏn with their Korean counterparts to throw light on three different processes of knowledge creation involved in this border crossing of science: theory selection, practice collection, and editing. First, a reading of Korean agricultural manuals, as well as other textual sources of information on agricultural technology such as entries in chronicles, local gazetteers, encyclopedic works, and journals, will serve to identify the additions and exclusions from the Chinese sources in each Korean agricultural manual. Second, the ways in which knowledge from local farmers was collected and processed to complement or sometimes replace Chinese knowledge will be reconstructed. Lastly, the project is also a contemplation on the epistemic culture of nature at large that Korean compilers found themselves in, working from the hypothesis that their selection and ordering criteria of knowledge reflect a set of epistemic values about nature.