The futures of becoming(s)
Exploring the liminal spaces between consciousness and spirituality

Exploring Liminal Diasporic Identities: Examining the Case of the Korean diaspora

Why is it important to think about diasporic identities? There is indication that the next few decades will be replete with movement of people between nations both from push and pull factors. There will be both a) climate migrants and b) voluntary immigrants, as developed nations (the West and nations like Japan and Korea) seek to address aging populations and low birth rates with foreign labour.
How do we think about diasporic identities? Diasporic identities are liminal identities, but with specific limitations. Through theories of nationalism and diaspora (e.g., Anderson’s Imagined Communities, and Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism) I theorize and better situate diasporic identities and show how they are constructed. I then use a comparative approach, comparing Korean diasporic communities in China, Japan, and Canada to demonstrate how a combination of institutional and state-level factors, host and home societal factors, the agency of the diaspora, and historical contingencies transform Korean diasporic identities over time.
I will end my presentation by connecting these insights with ideas about identities of “becoming,” as expressed in Dator’s recently published Human Becomings. Dator’s ideas about “becoming” largely ignore the structural factors of identity-formation that find origins in the state (e.g., John Lie Modern Peoplehood). However, Dator is also correct to assert the importance of “becoming”: as John Lie writes, individuals cannot be reduced to their identity categories.
I conclude by suggesting that, when it comes to identity formation, we should be both cognizant of structural factors and attend to individual, biographical navigations of identity.