MULTICULTURAL POLITICS AND NATIONAL BOUNDARY MAKING IN KOREA: Mapping the intersectional dimensions of nation, gender, class, and ethnicity in state policy and practice
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This dissertation examines the conception and implementation of state multicultural policy to analyze how migrants are received and incorporated within South Korea, a newly emergent migrant receiving country in Asia. To this end, I conducted ethnographic research at two Centers established to enact governmental multicultural policy, focusing on the separate accounts and experiences of ground-level policy practitioners (Koreans) and targeted recipients (migrants) in relation to the policy implementation and its ‘real world’ effects. The results show the varied and conflicting perspectives of those involved, and how they are informed by the intersecting social constructs of nation, ethnicity, gender, family, and class. These intersectional workings and effects also contribute to the unequal social relations between Koreans and migrants, especially in shaping a particular national form of ‘racism’ against migrants, and helping to maintain the previously unchallenged formation of national identity in Korea. Three thematically arranged analysis chapters discuss specifically how these social processes serve to form and naturalize social hierarchies and powers in Korea, with each chapter examining a specific intersectional circumstance: The intersection of gender inequality and nationalism; the intersection of class and nation(ality); and, the emphasis of joint Korean nationality and ethnicity in the multicultural policy. Each chapter illustrates the predominance of nationalism, as the critical mechanism and rationale behind Korea’s contested multicultural politics, and the central axis to connect with other dimensions of power including gender, class, and ethnicity. The combined research outcomes reveal the complex ways in which the inter-group relations and hierarchies are organized, through the state policy, bureaucratic practice and individual agency.