My dissertation aims to diversify the conventional Christian virtue discourses that in general set Jesus as the exemplary model for Christian virtues and exclusively focus on imitating the self-sacrifice of Jesus in the passion narrative. By employing a case study of a particular community, this dissertation exposes the danger of the self-sacrificial virtue discourses to the oppressed who have been structurally and culturally forced to sacrifice themselves excessively.
To adequately register the lived experience of the oppressed, this dissertation uncovers untold stories of South Korean mothers and wives of political victims oppressed by the totalitarian regimes of Park Chung-hee and Chun Doo-hwan in the 1970 and ’80s. Based on my fieldwork in South Korea, I collected archival and qualitative data on their distinctive form of political resistance and democratic movement, what they call kajok-woondong, roughly translated as family movement.
Using the collected data, first, this dissertation offers thick historical descriptions of the sociopolitical context of South Korea in the 1970 and ’80s and exposes a life-negating and dehumanizing culture, specifically totalitarian ideology, which was disseminated by the regimes to normalize individual citizens’ excessive or total sacrifices for the glory of nation. Then, this dissertation resents a thick description of moral life of the mothers and wives, tracing the historical development of their family movements and exploring their radical resignification of the traditional values of motherhood and wifehood in Korean culture.
In the second part, this dissertation offers an interdisciplinary analysis of the transformative process of cultivating the moral agency of the mothers and wives by examining the process of emotional transformation and the role of transmuted emotions in providing them with moral resources. By exploring their non-violent and life-affirming protest in contrast to life-consuming suicide protest, this project argues that the mothers and wives embodied an alternative moral virtue—the virtue of salim—to the propagandized virtue of the total sacrifice. Finally, given their creative use of religious symbols related to the resurrection of Christ in their public protest, the dissertation re-reads the Matthean resurrection narrative through the stories of the mothers and wives and then suggest the faithful witness to God’s resurrecting power, exemplified by the women in the Gospel of Matthew, as an alternative theological virtue of the oppressed.
Table of Contents
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About this Dissertation
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|File download under embargo until 20 August 2025||2019-07-13||File download under embargo until 20 August 2025|