Voices from In-Between: Korean Chinese Identity under the Gazes of China and South Korea

  • Author / Creator
    Jiang, Xuxiang
  • This thesis concerns the identity construction of the Korean Chinese who were Chinese citizens of China but had Korean ancestry, and who “returned” to South Korea, their forefathers’ homeland, in the 1990s. The factors underlying the hybrid identity of the Korean Chinese and their identity crisis following their “return” to South Korea are addressed. This involves an examination of the specificities of the socio-historical context of Korean Chinese that contribute to their hybridization of identity and their consequent identity crisis. Prior studies have tended to frame the Korean Chinese identity within the context of either the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or South Korea, leading to inadequate accounts of the making and unmaking of Korean Chinese identity by both two nation states. This thesis provides an alternative approach to Korean Chinese identity issues by considering the nation-buildings efforts of both China and South Korea. It (re)contextualizes the Korean Chinese as the “others” who were “otherized” and marginalized in both the PRC and South Korea, causing them to feel “betwixt and between.” Arif Dirlik has highlighted the need to ground this hybridization in a particular socio-historical context in order to avoid abstracting the difficulties of the marginalized and to better understand the reality of subaltern people. To understand and address the identity crisis of Korean Chinese, the arbitrary processes of othering them in the discourses of both the PRC and South Korea are probed by tracing the historical trajectories of Korean Chinese identity formation under two othering and hegemonic gazes, that of Han-dominated communist China and that of South Korean-centered Korea. This is followed by an examination of the subjective experiences of Korean Chinese identity through an analysis of the novel Windflower. The literary analysis of the novel in this thesis serves sociological ends, giving voice to the Korean Chinese experiences. To be specific, the use of the novel Windflower in this thesis serves as a window into the lives of Korean Chinese. This method of analysis and use of novel are preferred, in part, because the Korean Chinese ethnic identity is difficult to approach more directly due to the political controls on the public debate of Korean Chinese role and identity in PRC. Moreover, the practical considerations made it impossible to travel to China and South Korea and conduct the anthropological field work. By historicizing Korean Chinese hybrid identity in this research, I demonstrate that hybridity should always be closely considered within a historical context, and illustrate that hybridity means different things for different groups and peoples at different times.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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