UCI assistant professor of history David Fedman, here hiking in South Korea, is writing a book on forestry and the politics of conservation in colonial Korea.

David Fedman, assistant professor of history, has been awarded a $6,000 National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend to support the completion of his manuscript The Saw & the Seed: Forestry & the Politics of Conservation in Colonial Korea (under contract with the University of Washington Press). “I’m absolutely thrilled to have received this grant from the NEH and will use it to get my manuscript into the hands of the editors,” Fedman said. His research for this project began in 2010 while he was hiking on Mt. Namsan in Seoul, South Korea, where he encountered a group of elderly men uprooting stands of acacia trees. It was, they explained to him, their attempt to cleanse the landscape of ecological traces of the 1910-1945 period of colonial rule by Japan.

In the manuscript, Fedman examines Japanese efforts to understand, rehabilitate, exploit, modernize and showcase Korea’s forests and explores the conflicting interests in and visions for environmental reform. “It has always been my goal,” he said, “to write a book that will resonate with a wide range of scholars as well as the public at large.” The NEH summer stipend supports a scholar’s work for two months. Fedman’s was one of more than 800 applications received, of which only 8 percent were funded.