Senior Papers

KINSHIP AND SEVERANCE: RECONCILING FRACTURED HISTORIES AND REIMAGINING A TRANSNATIONAL KOREAN DIASPORA

Author Full Name
Andrew Cha
2023

Abstract:

Central to this creative synthesis project are the experiences and imaginations of Korean diaspora populations and how they conceptualize notions of kinship and severance — both amongst each other and in relation to some form of Korean identity. Within the context of this project, kinship and severance operate as two seemingly oppositional, but interconnected themes – interacting with one another through complex histories of war, solidarity, division, and diaspora. Though scholars of diaspora studies have long explored themes of kinship and severance in application to various populations throughout the globe, this project sources from original interviews with members of the Korean diaspora to formulate original definitions of these themes. As such, this project defines kinship as a sensation of unity and connection within communities, often derived from the intimacies of shared history and ongoing reconciliation. Conversely, severance can be understood as a feeling of separation and/or deprivation from a perceived identity, community, physical space or land, and an existence of self determination. Historical research and data from qualitative interviews frame these notions of kinship and severance as existing simultaneously within both Korean histories and contemporary realities. From the collective experiences of imperial violence and colonial struggle, thus connoting kinship by way of shared experiences of severance, to the subsequent fracturing of the Korean diaspora that has simultaneously generated new opportunities for community formation and transnational solidarity, Korean people across the globe appear tethered to these themes and sensations, with this array of experiences yet to be fully reconciled or explored.

In dissecting these themes, this project further adopts somewhat of a temporal analysis: bridging connections between Korean histories, contemporary experiences of Korean diaspora peoples, and imagined futures of a healed Korean people by way of family reconnection and reunification of the peninsula. Consistent with this analysis, this project explores a series of research questions:

1) How do Korean diaspora peoples navigate notions of kinship and severance in their personal and familial conception of a Korean diasporic identity?

2) In what ways do kinship and severance play a signicant role in the historical movement of Korean peoples, as well as the subsequent formation of a multi-dimensional Korean diasporic identity?

View final project here