Korean american diaspora
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Korean American Diaspora. Dr. Young Rae Oum Hanyang International Summer School Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity. Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity. James Clifford, Diasporas

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Korean american diaspora

Korean American Diaspora

Dr. Young Rae Oum

Hanyang International Summer School

Session 7

Travels and Politics of Identity


Session 7 travels and politics of identity

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

James Clifford, Diasporas

Exploratory, postcolonial definition of diaspora in the changing global conditions, based on the articulations from contemporary black Britain and anti-Zaionist Judaism.

Transnational moment?--Explosion of terms related to movement across nations, cultures, and regions, such as border, travel, creolization, transculturation, hybridity, and diaspora.

The meaning of the term “diaspora” (once described Jewish, Greek, and Armenian dispersion) is much expanded now; used for immigrants, expatriates, refugees, guest workers, exile communities, overseas community, and ethnic communities.

Border theories and diaspora paradigms share interests in formerly marginal hisotories and cultural crossing.


Session 7 travels and politics of identity1

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Safran defines diaspora as “expatriate minority communities”

1) that are dispersed from an original center to at least two peripheral places

2) that maintain a memory, vision, or myth about their original homeland

3) that believe that are not, and perhaps cannot, be fully accepted by their host country

4) that see the ancestral home as a place of eventual return, when the time is right

5) that are committed to the maintenance or restoration of this homeland and

6) of which the group’s consciousness and solidarity are importantly defined by this continuing relationships with the homeland


Session 7 travels and politics of identity2

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Diasporic forms of longing, memory and (dis)identification are found broadly in minority and migrant groups and their active movement across the border became extremely common. It is hard to maintain exclusivist paradigm of diaspora research.

No diasporic group has all the features Safran listed, and ambivalence about returning to or attachment to homeland is often found in reality.


Session 7 travels and politics of identity3

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Safran’s definition of diaspora is restrictive and there is no such group that completely fits with the “ideal type” (closest one being the Jewish diaspora). Especially problematic with the teleology of “returning” to the (utopian) origin. (Safran is ambivalent about the definition and would not enforce the definitional checklist)

At different times, societies may wax and wane in diasporism, depending on changing possiblities (obstacles, openings, antagonisms, and connections) in their host countries and transnationally.

Diasporas are caught up with/defined against (1) norms of nation-states (requiring assimilation) (2) indigenous claims by “tribal” people. (Tribes=people who claim natural/first-nation sovereignty.)


Session 7 travels and politics of identity4

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Diasporic cultures are not necessarily anti-nationalist; some are most violently purist. Yet culturally, in practice, they can never be exclusively nationalist

Diaspora is different from “travel”; it is not temporary. It forms communities that share certain consciousness.

“Fourth World”—transnational alliance among people who share common historical experiences of dispossession, displacement, and adaptation.

Diasporic language is replacing and supplementing minority discourse; challenges the binary relation of Minority communties vs. Majority society.

Diaspora is not exactly immigrant communities; the latter is a temporary site where three generations stuggled through a hard transition to ethnic American status.


Session 7 travels and politics of identity5

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Diaspora is also different from cosmopolitans. (Examples from Ulf Hannerz and Aihwa Ong)

Diaspora is also gendered and

racialized and classed.

Women’s experience of dispora?

  • Maintaining connections with homelands, with kinship networkds, a with religious and cultural traditions may reinforce patriarchal structures.

  • New roles and demands, and new political spaces are opened by diaspora interactions.

    E.g. Haesu, from the Clay Walls

    Mary Paik Lee, Quiet Odyssey


Session 7 travels and politics of identity6

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Race in Diaspora

Paul Gilroy, Black Atlantic: Inter-continental movement by black people (not only as commondities) who engaged in various struggles toward emancipation, autonomy, and citizenship.

Gilroy brought “black” back to “Union Jack”.

Yellow Pacific?


Session 7 travels and politics of identity7

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Midterm Questions

1. What does it mean to be a "model minority"? What is the origin of the term? (Who called whom a model minority and why?) Why is this term problematic? (Natalie)

2. How are the concepts of heterogeneity, hybridity, and multiplicity useful in theorizing Asian American identities? (Leah)

3. Provide examples of heterogeneity, hybridity, and multiplicity (one example for each) in Korean American diaspora, utilizing the Korean American narratives from “East to America,” the two documentary films, or the research findings in the reading.


Session 7 travels and politics of identity8

Session 7 Travels and Politics of Identity

Midterm Questions

4. How did early immigrants view the “American Dream” and how did their actual experiences differ form their initial expectations? (Susan)

5. How does the "Middle-Man Minority" explain why Koreans were victimized during the LA Riots? Why did the media create false stereotypes of Koreans during this incident? (Stephanie)

6. How did Safran define “diaspora” and how does James Clifford complicate Safran’s term? Do you agree with Clifford? Why or why not? (Please provide examples from the texts or documentaries.)


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