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Korean Routes of Migration in the Americas

Joint Research Project I (2007-2009) for the Korean Studies in the Americas

This project has brought together eight scholars in various disciplines, including anthropology, political science, management, and cultural studies, from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and the U.S. to explore transnational Korean communities in the Americas. Since the 1960s, over 200,000 Koreans have migrated to Latin America. While these immigrants have established a strong economic and social presence in some countries, they have also shown a propensity to re-migrate to other Latin American countries, the U.S., and Canada.

This project examined the relationship between transnationality and Korean institutional identity through examination of the institutional, discursive, and experiential dimensions of the migrant population. We documented the institutional identity/ “Korean-ness” of these communities and verified the relationship between institutional identities and their transnational reach by exploring how economic, religious, family, and other ties form networks across national borders. Finally, we asked whether transnationalism has preserved, eroded, or hybridized Korean identities. This project demonstrated how policies, institutions, discourses and symbols from multiple locations were used in constructing transnational socio-cultural space. It explored the meanings, causes, and consequences of Korean migration within the Americas and contributed to the theoretical debate on the critical role of migration in the globalized economy.

We conducted the field research phase of this project during 2007-09 and held a conference on July 13, 2009 at the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. The working papers are listed below. We are planning to publish a conference volume during 2009-2010 academic year.

Research participants include: Kyeyoung Park (Anthropology, UCLA / leader of this research), Wonjung Min (Cultural Studies, Catholic University of Chile), Julie Kim (Language and Cultural, Diego Portales University, Chile); Corina Courtis (Anthropology, University of Buenos Aires); Carolina Mera (Anthropology, University of Buenos Aires), Mirta Bialogorski (Sociology, University of Buenos Aires), Paula Im (Language and Culture, University of Sao Paulo, Brazil), and Alfredo Castilla (Political Science, Autonomous University of Mexico).

Center for Korean Studies