Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Vigilant Ethnicity: Korean Chinese Communist Party Members Encounter the Forbidden Homeland" at Pitt, April 10.

The University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center will present Dr. June hee Kwon and her talk, "Vigilant Ethnicity: Korean Chinese Communist Party Members Encounter the Forbidden Homeland", on April 10. The abstract:
Since China and South Korea normalized diplomatic relations in 1992, Korean Chinese, part of an officially recognized ethnic minority group in China, have migrated to Korea in search of both long-lost family members and better working opportunities. This massive and persistent migration to Korea is commonly called the Korean Wind. Based on ethnographic research in Yanbian, China, this paper examines how the ethnic politics of Korean Chinese Communist Party members have developed in response to the Korean Wind. South Korea was long been considered a forbidden capitalist enemy. How have these party members re-conceptualized their ties to South Korea, a relationship that was used as grounds for political persecution during the Cultural Revolution? How have they dealt with the economic affluence and cultural changes brought about by the Korean Wind over the last two decades? The elderly party members I interviewed exemplify a sharp split in the politics of ethnicity that distinguishes economic intention from political position—they are highly economized by the transnational migration to Korea while at the same time intensely politicized because of their tight identification with China as socialist subjects. I argue that the combination of economic need with a sense of multiple belonging is what constitutes and generates Korean Chinese as a vigilant ethnicity. This paper details the emergence of “Yanbian socialism,” a political nexus articulated between post- Cold War circumstances, post-socialist China, and neoliberal East Asia.
Dr. Kwon is the Korea-Japan Postdoctoral Fellow in Pitt's Department of Anthropology. The talk begins in 4130 Posvar (map) at 12:00 and is free and open to the public.