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"Korea is Korea. How do we react to that? Honestly, 'cos it frustrates us." : the experience of young Canadian migrant workers in Seoul

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"Korea is Korea. How do we react to that? Honestly, 'cos it frustrates us." : the experience of young Canadian migrant workers in Seoul

Bains, Nirmala (2009) "Korea is Korea. How do we react to that? Honestly, 'cos it frustrates us." : the experience of young Canadian migrant workers in Seoul. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis is about young Canadians who travel to Seoul, South Korea to teach English. The majority of these Canadians flock to Seoul in search of a livelihood and not out of a specific desire to live in South Korea. Through three months of participant observation and semi-structured interviews, I explore how they are racialized as white Westerners in South Korean society and how they respond to this positioning: I show how these Canadians oscillate between notions of privilege and the sincere vulnerabilities they face as transmigrant workers. This study is concerned with how subjects narrate their identities through their transnational movement given that these identities are relational and are never disinterested or value-free. As Canadians they fail to identify as migrant workers and rely on various normative discourses of superiority to symbolically displace their actual marginal status. Drawing on their prevailing, albeit unconscious, liberal values these Canadians rely on their understandings of progress, tolerance and universalism to make sense of South Korean society. Ultimately, most Canadian English teachers criticize and then attempt to civilize South Koreans. The concepts of race, nation and whiteness are central to this study as they provide a means to analyze the racialized narratives of these Canadians. Consequently, the manner in which racism and nationalism are interchangeable is unraveled in this transnational context.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Bains, Nirmala
Pagination:vi, 147 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Sociology and Anthropology
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Amit, Vered
ID Code:976653
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:30
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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