Friday, February 12th, 2016 Contested Embrace: Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea

Friday, February 12, 20163:00PM - 5:00PM208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7


Contested Embrace is a comparative, historical, and ethnographic study of the complex relationships among the states in the Korean peninsula, colonial-era Korean migrants to Japan and northeast China and their descendants, and the states in which they have resided over the course of the twentieth century. The book focuses theoretically on how seemingly mundane bureaucratic practices contribute to the making, unmaking, and remaking of the “homeland” state and the “transborder nation”: by constituting the conceptual grid through which a state identifies and enumerates “its” transborder population and mobilizes them for its own agendas; by mediating the reiterative encounters between the state and “its” transborder population, and thereby shaping the vernacular idioms of self-identification of the latter; and by leaving durable documentary traces, to which a state turns to validate the claims to national belonging of those whose long defunct ties to their “homeland” seem ambiguous or suspicious. The talk will flesh out these claims through the analysis of (1) South Korea’s effort to create its own docile citizens out of ethnic Koreans in Japan in the fierce competition with North Korea; and (2) South Korea’s effort to control its territorial and membership boundary from ethnic Korean “return” migrants from China.

Jaeeun Kim is an assistant professor in sociology at the University of Michigan. She specializes in political sociology, ethnicity and nationalism, and international migration and globalization in East Asia and beyond. She has published her work in various academic journals. Her first book, Contested Embrace, based on her award-winning dissertation, will come out at Stanford University Press in April 2016.


Jaeeun Kim
Professor, Sociology, University of Michigan

Jennifer Chun
Director, Centre for the Study of Korea and Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Toronto

Main Sponsor

Centre for the Study of Korea


Asian Institute

Centre for Global Social Policy

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