Occupying Knowledge: Expertise, Technocracy, and Decolonization in the US Occupation of Korea


Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships




Largely forgotten, Korea received the occupation that was originally designed and intended for Japan. In 1945, hundreds of US military experts, trained in public health, medicine, engineering, and the law, were ordered to re-locate their operations to southern Korea. There, they were expected to apply their expertise to transform a former colony into a modern nation. This project tells the story of US military technocrats, their transfer from Japan, the Philippines, and the United States, and their role in the unplanned occupation of Korea. In doing so, it re-examines the occupation of Korea as a laboratory for US postwar nation-building strategies, where expert officials experimented and honed methods for managing the aspirations of a former colonized people while arresting the spread of communism in Asia.