cks logo
menu bar

Transnational Stratification and the Global Labor and Educational Migration of South Korean Youth

Transnational Stratification and the Global Labor and Educational Migration of South Korean Youth

Image provided by speaker

Dr. Carolyn Choi, Postdoctoral Fellow at University of California, Los Angeles

Wednesday, April 19, 2023
3:30 PM (Pacific Time)

10383 Bunche Hall

This talk explores the educational and labor migration pathways of lower-resourced South Korean youth to the popular English study destinations of the Philippines, the US, and Australia. With youth (18-32) now viewed as the key cornerstone to South Korea's biopolitical state projects for national ascendance, Dr. Choi's research draws from 137 in-depth interviews and six years of multi-sited longitudinal ethnographic methods to investigate how South Korea’s late-modern transformation from a “colonized nation” to a “neocolonial superpower” shapes the everyday transnational experiences of young South Koreans on the move for projects of class mobility (via human and cultural capital). Weaving together the lives of young Korean migrants working under-the-table as karaoke hostesses in Los Angeles, California, laboring in zucchini farms in rural Australia, and learning English in the provincial Philippines, her research expands the existing scope of analyses on East to West, South to North educational migration to include a wider swathe of youth on the move, largely from the provincial regions of South Korea. These youth are no longer travelling to English-speaking settler destinations in the West but to emerging educational tourist sites across the Pacific Rim, including in former colonial and militarized sites. In this talk. Dr. Choi introduces migrants' experiences of transnational stratification and how educational migration extends homegrown class inequalities transnationally, through the intersection of legal, racialized labor, and spatial processes in varied destination countries, that differ according to the particular geopolitical and neocolonial relations of the origin society and receiving destinations. Through documenting transnational stratification across three distinct sites (the Philippines, US, and Australia), this project illuminates the ways in which the transnational experiences of precariously positioned South Korean youth challenge national narratives of global economic prominence as well as newer discourses of Asian ascendancy within shifting globalized racial orders. Furthermore, it links longer historical legacies of Western and Asian colonialism, U.S. militarization, and linguistic imperialism to contemporary geopolitical configurations of nation-building and migration pathways—across different Anglo-American settler as well as emerging intra-Asian contexts.

Dr. Carolyn Choi is currently the Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to coming to UCLA, Dr. Choi was the Guarini Dean's Postdoctoral Fellow of Asian American Studies at Dartmouth College. As a former Academy of Korean Studies, Fulbright, and Department of Education fellow, her research looks at the ways migration, race, labor, gender, and education intersect and has published in the International Migration Review, positions: Asia critique, Global Networks, AAPI Nexus Journal, and Social & Cultural Geography. When she's not writing for adults, she also writes children’s books on feminism and intersectionality and is co-author of Intersectionallies: We Make Room for All.

Sponsor(s): Center for Korean Studies, Asian American Studies Department

Image for Calendar ButtonImage for Calendar Button