Contested Embrace

Jaeeun Kim

Published by Stanford University Press

Published in print July 2016 | ISBN: 9780804797627
Published online January 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780804799614 | DOI:
Contested Embrace

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The incongruity between territory, citizenry, and nation has long preoccupied students of international migration, nationalism, and citizenship, including the state’s transborder relationship with its “external” members (e.g., emigrants, diasporas, and ethnonational “kin”). This book 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. Despite a widespread and quasi-primordial belief in Korean ethnic nationhood, the embrace of these transborder coethnic populations by the Japanese colonial state and the two postcolonial states (North and South Korea) has been shifting and recurrently contested. Through analyses of transborder membership politics in the colonial, Cold War, and post-Cold War periods, the book explores under what circumstances and by what means the colonial and postcolonial states have sought to claim (or failed to claim) certain transborder populations as “their own,” and how transborder Koreans have themselves shaped the making, unmaking, and remaking of transborder ties as they have sought long-distance membership on their own terms. Extending the constructivist approach to nations/nationalisms and the culturalist/cognitive turn in recent theorizing on the modern state to a transnational context, it demonstrates that being a “homeland” state or a member of the “transborder nation” is not an ethnodemographic fact, but an arduous and revocable political achievement, mediated profoundly by the historically evolving and mutually interlinked bureaucratic practices of the state.

Keywords: transborder membership politics; diaspora/homeland; nationalism/transnationalism; colonial migration; Cold War; state’s symbolic power; Korea; Japan; China

Book.  360 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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