Nam-Lin Hur


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Bonds of trust: the origins of tanomi shomon and the mechanisms of trust and cooperation in early modern Japan (2021)

This dissertation involves an examination on the social mechanisms of trust and cooperation in Tokugawa society from the unification in the early seventeenth century through the end of the samurai rule in the late nineteenth century. In this project, I examine nearly seven hundred Tokugawa-period agreements, namely Bonds of Trust (tanomi shōmon), to understand how they emerged and buttressed social cohesion in early modern Japan. They were written promises primarily used to elicit cooperation within a group of Tokugawa villagers when they stood in resistance to competing groups and samurai feudal rule. In my discussion that centers on their connections to ukebumi (“letters of acceptance”) and kishōmon (“divine oaths”)—the contracts of ancient origin which traditionally employed the threat of divine punishment as a deterrent to defection—I shed a light on the new function of these Bonds of Trust by examining how they rose in dominance over the covenant with kami and buddhas and emerged as a secular institution for meting out rewards over the course of Tokugawa period.

View record

Vernacular music and female musicians in late ChosOn Korea, 1700-1897 (2019)

This dissertation investigates the Late Chosŏn Korean vernacular music genre known as chamber music and a new music community comprised of professional musicians from diverse social strata, including female musicians in chamber music practice. I raise a series of questions about music practice in social relations: the formulation of the court music domain in the Confucian platform; cultural assumptions surrounding musical activity and the place of musicians; the characteristics of chamber music among the cultivated and the vulgar; the agency of musicians in social distinctions, such as class, gender, and region, in the Late Chosŏn and the specific positionality of female musicians in diverse music venues.₃ The dissertation is divided into four major chapters. The first chapter covers the issue of ideal music within a Confucian framework, the taxonomy of court music, the contentions surrounding the enjoyment of music, and the movement of court musicians into private music venues in the Late Chosŏn period. The second chapter deals with the formation of chamber music, focusing on the specific location of chungin (second status) musicians who had multifaceted relationships with the patron group from the upper class and their interventions in the reshaping of chamber music as cultivated. The third chapter deals with female musicians called kinyŏ (known as female entertainers; courtesans), not least interrogating the complex character of the female musicians who performed both for official ceremonies and in private chamber music venues. The fourth chapter delves into the voices and narratives of kinyŏ that included their strategies as part of the struggle for social recognition. I further examine the environments of kinyŏ who engaged in commodifying the musical and cultural assets in kibang (known as pleasure quarters) and pursue the intricate connection between female musicians and the urban entertainment business in the Late Chosŏn period. My analysis of chamber music and professional musicians articulates the dynamic cultural forces that reformulated the dominant aesthetic based upon Confucian morality. The heterogeneous social realities captured in the music scene will enable us to reconsider Late Chosŏn society, which has been explained with the blanket term “Confucianization” applied to all social levels. 

View record

Seeing like monks: strife and order at KMyasan temple, Japan, fourteenth to seventeenth centuries (2017)

This study reassesses the politics of religious institutions from the late medieval to the early Tokugawa era in Japan. It suggests that the dominant discourse on the topic has been constrained by a theoretical tension between religion and the state as the main framing device. What has been overlooked is the interplay between geographical manifestations of religion and politics. This study examines documents of the Kōyasan Buddhist temple, to learn how monks overcame tensions at the contested space of the temple from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. It was found that in the late medieval period (fourteenth to the late sixteenth centuries), the numinous power of the temple was exploited by monks to transform themselves into regional overlords. Monks controlled land through the medium of a sacred landscape and governed the region in unison with deities. This changed with the emergence in the late sixteenth century of the unified state of early modern Japan. The state curtailed the potential of the sacred to give rise to autonomous power, all the while consolidating its hold by ritually tapping the numinous power of a national landscape. It also entrenched its power at the heart of the temple society by issuing land grants. Accompanying this shift was an epochal change in the manner by which the temple space was organized. In the medieval period, monks forged a ritualized unity to overcome conflict and impose order. The unitive impulse was broken inadvertently by the state with its land grants. Internal divisions hardened and it no longer became possible to overcome differences. Divided groups then tapped the state’s judicature to rebuild their society. From the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries, the source of order at the temple shifted from the sacred to the state. For monks, both authorities were higher powers that they needed to contain the fluidity of their contested space.

View record

Clerical Marriage and Buddhist Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Korea (2016)

This dissertation examines the issue of clerical marriage among Korean Buddhist clerics during the Japanese colonial period in Korea. The majority of celibate monks and scholars in South Korea accuse clerical marriage of bringing about the deterioration of “pure” Korean Buddhist tradition. This dissertation argues that clerical marriage was, in fact, one of the survival tactics of Korean Buddhist monks who were confronted with significant changes foisted upon them under Japanese colonial rule, changes that included the introduction of the modern household register system and the change in the relationship between teacher and pupil in Korean Buddhist monasteries. Clerical marriage can be seen as a barometer that exposes the complicated relationship of Buddhist ethics and colonial rule. The dissertation is divided into five major chapters that proceed in chronological order. Chapter One revisits late Chosŏn Buddhism, a period which saw the emergence of a “dharma family” that allowed monks to bequeath their private property to their dharma descendants with the purpose of its being used for memorial services. Chapter Two examines the temple bylaws and clerical marriage in the 1910s. Temple bylaws brought the issue of “clerical marriage and meat-eating” to the surface for the first time in the history of Korean Buddhism. Chapter Three discusses the revision of the temple bylaws in the 1920s that, in essence, removed the disadvantages previously experienced by monks who married and ate meat. Chapter Four centers on the hot debate over clerical marriage in 1926, and analyzes the way in which Korean Buddhists understood clerical marriage and the revision of the temple bylaws. Chapter Five traces the practice of clerical marriage through an examination of the household registers of Korean monks, and addresses the way that the modern household register system became intertwined with the spread of clerical marriage. This chapter also shows that clerical marriage was practiced by full-fledged monks in the early 1920s. A close examination of clerical marriage and its multiple facets by presenting concrete and tangible examples of Korean married monks may provide a deeper understanding of just how Buddhist ethics, modernity, and colonialism were interwoven.

View record

Bushido: The Creation of a Martial Ethic in Late Meiji Japan (2011)

This study examines the development of the concept of “bushido,” or the “way of the warrior,” in modern Japan, focusing on the period between the mid-nineteenth century and the early 1930s. The popular view holds that bushido was a centuries-old code of behavior rooted in the historical samurai class and transmitted into the modern period, where it was a fundamental component of Japanese militarism before 1945. In fact, the concept of bushido was largely unknown before the last decade of the nineteenth century, and was widely disseminated only after 1900, especially after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5. This study argues that modern bushido discourse began in the 1880s, and was dependent on political and cultural currents relating to Japan’s modernization and the nation’s attempts to redefine itself in the face of foreign “others,” primarily China and the West. Following more than a decade of largely unquestioned thrusts towards modernization and Westernization after 1868, Japanese thinkers looked to their own traditions in search of sources of national identity. The first discussions of bushido at this time were not the work of conservative reactionaries, however, but were conceived by relatively progressive individuals with considerable international experience and a command of Western languages. Some of the first modern writings on bushido clearly posit the concept as a potential native equivalent to the English ethic of “gentlemanship,” which was widely admired in late-nineteenth century Japan, and much of early bushido discourse should be seen primarily as a response to outside stimuli. This study examines the causes and effects of the “bushido boom” that took place between 1898 and 1914, which firmly established the concept not only in Japan, but throughout the world. In this context, this study analyzes the use of bushido by the Japanese military and educational system, as well as its popularization by prominent figures in the early twentieth century. This study also examines the reasons for the decline in the popularity of bushido between 1914 and the early 1930s, thereby providing points of departure for future research on the trajectory of bushido from 1932 to the present day.

View record

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

TMkeiji's business: The agency of nuns in the early modern period (2013)

This thesis explores the agency of nuns at elite convents by focusing on how they successfully acted within the constraints of social regulations during the early modern period. I use agency as a tool to examine issues of representation and authority of the nuns in response to arguments that stress nuns are marginalized in the broader study of Japanese Buddhism. This thesis explores that the study of nuns is not about uncovering marginalized representations, but evaluating the agency and authority of nuns as relative to their contemporaries, such as other monks and public authorities. I primarily focus on Tōkeiji, the famous divorce temple (enkiridera 縁切寺), supplemented by examples from imperial convents (bikuni gosho 比丘尼御所) of the early modern period. Chapter 1 focuses on divorce as a pivotal issue to discuss agency, representation, and authority of the wife who requested divorce and of the abbess who guaranteed the divorce by temple code law. Chapter 2 reexamines the theoretical and actual the power relations within the personnel structure especially in regard to the temple hierarchy. Chapter 3 reviews the significant connection between financial management and influential familial patrons. Chapter 4 explores the multifaceted nature of the temple. I reach the conclusion that a different perspective on approaching the study of nuns at elite convents enables us to move away from the repetitive debate on whether nuns are considered independent. Instead, the approach to assess how the nuns used their resources in their network as ritual specialists, politicians, and businesspeople presents a comprehensive examination of an Edo period nun.

View record


Membership Status

Member of G+PS
View explanation of statuses

Program Affiliations

Academic Unit(s)


If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.


Discover the amazing research that is being conducted at UBC!