Sold Out

Racialization & Alliance-Building in Korean American Immigrant Rights Work

Event Information

Share this event

Date and Time

Location

Location

Asian American / Asian Research Institute - CUNY

25 West 43rd Street

Room 1000

New York, NY 10036

View Map

Event description

Description

Based on ten months of ethnographic fieldwork with Korean American immigrant rights organizers, and the Black and Latinx organizers with which they attempt to build solidarity, this presentation explores how the aforementioned tensions unfold in activists' daily interactions as they attempt to build an interracial solidarity movement at a moment of intensified anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy-making.

In the past twenty years, a 249% growth in undocumented migration from South Korea has contributed to the emergence of socially progressive Korean American immigrant rights organizations committed to solidarity building with other racialized immigrant groups. The rise of these organizations unfolds amongst tension between Korean Americans with diverse political orientations, and between differently racialized immigrants. Organizers are confronted with the contentious legacies of the so-called Black-Korean conflicts of the 1980s and 1990s. They also contend with Asian American exceptionalism narratives that conspire to both render Asian American migrants as the more "desirable" foils to their Black and Latinx counterparts, and to delegitimize claims by Black and Latinx of continued racialized oppression. What does it mean then to attempt to build an AAPI immigrant rights movement that accounts for these complex dynamics? And, what do these encounters reveal about the intersection of racialization and undocumented status?

By drawing attention to undocumented Korean Americans, who are often low-wage, irregular workers, Korean American immigrant rights organizers upset popular depictions of Korean Americans as uniformly successful, “self-made” entrepreneurs, a characterization that belies increasing Korean American socioeconomic diversity over the last twenty years. Tensions arise as organizers negotiate and attempt to build new forms of Korean American collective identities that encompass diverse, and emergent, Korean American lived experiences. What can the internal politics regarding undocumented immigration in Korean American communities reveal about how differently positioned immigrant groups articulate diverse understandings of human value and immigrant belonging?

Elizabeth Hanna Clark is a Ph.D. candidate in the anthropology department at University of California, Irvine (UCI). Elizabeth is a former community organizer and immigrant rights advocate with the organization CASA de Maryland. Since becoming a graduate student, she has received several awards for her scholar/activism of undocumented AAPI student organizing and mentorship on and off campus, including honorable mention for the 2018 Yamashita Prize for scholar/activism and the 2017 Thomas Angell Prize for excellence in mentoring.

Elizabeth is currently conducting eighteen months of fieldwork in Los Angeles and New York City for her dissertation work on how Korean American immigrant rights organizers navigate solidarities with Black and Latinx counterparts in the national immigrant rights movement. This research project is funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, the California Immigrant Research Initiative, UCI’s Center for Critical Korean Studies, and The Center for Citizen Placebuilding.

Share with friends

Date and Time

Location

Asian American / Asian Research Institute - CUNY

25 West 43rd Street

Room 1000

New York, NY 10036

View Map

Save This Event

Event Saved