My defense date is set! It's a public event, and I'd love to have you witness it.
"Queer Korean Diaspora: An Ethnography of Geopolitics"
Tuesday, March 1st, 2022
12:00pm - 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time
Stay connected to get the Zoom link. You can read the whole thing (200 pages!) in the PDF below -- I'd appreciate any thoughts and questions, during the defense and/or separately.
Limited empirical research exists on social movements among overseas Koreans, whose divergent experiences of migration and identity complicate the dynamics of ethnic solidarity. Besides the prolonged Cold War ideological division, Korean communities in Japan and the United States face alienation rooted in racial subordination and heteropatriarchal norms. In major U.S. cities, diverse Korean subjects gravitate towards grassroots organizing, including transnational adoptees, Zainichi Koreans (Koreans in/from Japan), and queer-identified individuals.
Existing sociological theory does not adequately explain the agency of such community organizers who negotiate differences and inequalities while seeking ethnic solidarity. I use the concept of queer diaspora to examine how geopolitical structures and discourses shape the embodied dimension of Korean ethnic community formation. I conduct ethnography of transnational Korean community organizing based on five years of observation from 2015 until 2020 in New York and San Francisco, including 25 in-depth interviews and archival research with five U.S.-based organizations.
My analysis shows how the organizers cultivate queer diasporic kinship by centering their alternative sense of place, time, and belonging. Their embodied practices animate ethnic community solidarity through what I call geopolitical healing, a process of articulating the sacredness of life and land. As a counter-hegemonic mode of ethnic mobilization, the queer Korean diaspora challenges liberal interpretations of sovereignty and nationhood that underscore the dominant discourse of Korean unification.
Engaging with the literature on nationalism, social movements, and queer migration, my research draws attention to the spiritual realm of social life that manifest in a cultural ecology of spaces, bodies, and meanings.
Table of Contents
Geopolitics of Alienation
Queer Korean Tenacity