How to Claim a Migrant: Koreans, Borders, and Belonging at the Edge of Asia and Russia

Colloquium | November 14 | 4-6 p.m. | Doe Library, Room 180

 Alyssa Park, University of Iowa

 Center for Korean Studies (CKS)

Summary: In the late nineteenth century, Koreans suddenly began to cross the border to Russia and China by the thousands. Their continuous mobility and settlement in the tripartite borderland made them an enduring topic of dispute between multiple countries (Korea, Russia, China, and Japan), and prompted a host of questions that concerned fundamental questions about states’ governance over people: Which country had the right to exercise authority over mobile people and where? Who possessed the right to control their movements? This talk brings the global phenomena of mobility and bordermaking into the microspace of Korea’s borderlands—specifically, the Maritime, the Russian side of a newly delineated border. Moving away from scholarly debates centering on disputes over territory, this talk focuses on contests over people. It examines why Koreans moved, what officials thought of them, and how they attempted to claim Koreans in their own states. It also illuminates questions that emerge from engaging in transnational history projects in the East Asia and Russia contexts. The talk draws from Alyssa Park’s recently published book, Sovereignty Experiments: Korean Migrants and the Building of Borders in Northeast Asia, 1860-1945.(link is external)

Bio: Alyssa Park is Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on migration, borderlands, and transnational history in Korea and northeast Asia, including Russia. She recently published the book Sovereignty Experiments: Korean Migrants and the Building of Borders in Northeast Asia, 1860-1945 (Cornell University Press, 2019). Dr. Park received her A.B. from Princeton University and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

 cks@berkeley.edu, 510-642-5674