Studies on marriage migration often portray marriage migrants as victims of globalization and patriarchy. Although there are intersecting oppressions among female migrant workers, the tendency to conflate marriage migration with sex trafficking among humanitarian organizations and scholars lead to erasure of divergent experiences.
In her book, Elusive Belonging: Marriage Immigrants and 'Multiculturalism' in Rural South Korea
(University of Hawai’i Press, 2018), Minjeong Kim challenges this narrative by showing how the feeling of belonging eludes a simple binary between authenticity of love [read as inclusion] and exclusion. Through in-depth interviews with thirty-five Filipinas, twenty-five Korean husbands, and eight Korean community members, Kim explores emotional citizenship created between couples, in-law families, as well as the transnational network of Filipina migrants. As scholarship on citizenship and migration highlights the importance of emotions in creating communities and identities for migrants in their host countries, Kim shows how Filipina’s social identities, along with their locations, intersect with multiplicity of emotions to shape their belonging within diverse national, familial, and co-ethnic spaces. Through her rich ethnography of international marriage couples in rural South Korea, Kim reminds us of the danger of victim narrative that can flatten marriage migrants’ experiences, and offers us a new way of thinking about citizenship that is shaped by migrants themselves through a multiplicity of emotions.
Minjeong Kim is Associate Professor and Department Chair of Sociology at San Diego State University. Her research areas include gender, family and international migration, as well as Asian American studies and the media.
Da In Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include reproductive justice movement, care labor and migration, affect theory, citizenship, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.