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Reading race : postcolonial nationalism in Korea

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Title:Reading race : postcolonial nationalism in Korea
Authors:Lee, Mary Deborah
South Korea
Date Issued:May 2012
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2012]
Abstract:This dissertation focuses on the significance of race to South Korean postcolonial nationalism. Despite critical scholarly attention paid to nationalist narratives in contemporary South Korea, the centrality of race remains peripheral. This poverty of investigation is paradoxical given the centrality of myths of racial origin, purity and uniqueness to nationalist historiography, political movements and discourses of the everyday. More intriguing still are the ways in which the modern myth of Korean racial homogeneity oppresses foreign 'others', particularly following the advent of Korea's state-sponsored globalization movement. This project addresses the near absence of critical work concerned with the development of modern racial consciousness in Korea.
My dissertation investigates different sites of transnational and trans-cultural encounter between Koreans and non-Koreans that generate racial anxiety in the form of civil unrest, policy conundrums and new social phenomena. The emergence of multicultural politics to manage the political controversies concerning the presence of migrant workers and brides; the changing socio-legal status of biracial peoples; and the racial aesthetics of Korea's popular culture industry as embodied in the Hallyu ("Korea Wave") phenomenon, feature as sites of examination. The case studies of this project operate upon the premise that how South Korea currently confronts the processes and demands of neoliberal globalization reflects a great deal about the centrality of race to post-colonial, national identity, as well as how it is currently under duress and transformation. This dissertation contributes to Korean studies scholarship on postcolonial race relations, which is relatively small and emergent. It also contributes to research on Asian modernities, regionalisms and "New Asia" discourses, which examine practices of decolonization and imperialism in the Asia-Pacific region.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Political Science

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