queer unification: book synopsis
Military tension engulfing the Korean Peninsula has reached a new phase after the collapse of the USSR, as North Korea began to acquire nuclear capabilities and South Korea became further entrenched in neoliberalism. Despite global attention to the shifting political dynamics in Northeast Asia, few empirical accounts exist of the growing transnational efforts by ethnic Koreans to achieve peaceful unification of Korea.
Led by women and queer folks, the Korean diaspora's radical community formations illuminate how geopolitics and embodied experiences shape one another. Responding to genocidal hauntings through storytelling, commemoration, and placemaking, diasporic Koreans – Korean Americans, transnational adoptees, and Zainichi Koreans (Koreans in/from Japan) – are coming together to unleash the power of their divergent ethnic identities into insurgent solidarity.
Confronting structural oppression and cultural alienation underpinning the homeland division, the Korean organizers cultivate queer diasporic kinship beyond liberal logics of subjectivity and territoriality. Vital and spiritual, their practices of space, time, and sacredness animate a cross-generational process of geopolitical healing, through which tongil, or the unification struggle, is redesigned and performed as decolonial sovereignty across the Pacific.
Based on more than a decade of ethnographic involvement, Queer Unification: Community and Healing in the Korean Diaspora documents, explains, and aids the collective production of such geopolitical knowledge by those diasporic Koreans, who articulate their embodied agency toward survival and belonging in the age of fire.
Haruki reflects on research, career, pedagogy, and community.