Colonial Migration and Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines the contestations over the membership status of colonial-era ethnic Korean migrants to Japan and northeast China and their descendants in the colonial, Cold-War, and post-Cold War eras. The century-long span of this study involving colonial rule and belated and divided nation-state building during the Cold War highlights the crucial importance of three factors which have been neglected in existing literature: (1) the dynamically evolving macro regional context, which has shaped trans border membership politics in the region; (2) the essentially political, performative, and constitutive nature of transborder nation-building; and (3) the documentary techniques of the modern state, the durable traces of which have constituted the conceptual grid through which the “homeland” state identified its transborder “kin,” left durable documentary traces on which the claim to national belonging could be grounded, and thus shaped the experience of transborder membershlp politics on the part of these Korean populations of colonial-era migrant origin.