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Negotiating hybridity: Transnational reconstruction of migrant subjectivity in Koreatown, Los Angeles
- Negotiating hybridity: Transnational reconstruction of migrant subjectivity in Koreatown, Los Angeles
- Lee Y.; Park K.
- Ewha Authors
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- Journal of Cultural Geography
- vol. 25, no. 3, pp. 245 - 262
- Transnationalism has emerged as a key factor in altering immigrant ethnic enclaves by networking them with global flows of capital and labor. A quintessential example is Koreatown in Los Angeles, often portrayed as the 'overseas Korean capital.' The area has experienced rapid transition since the mid-1990s that is related to a huge influx of South Korean transnational investment and, concomitantly, migrants of various backgrounds. This study investigates the resulting transformation of the built environment, residential composition, and social relations in Koreatown. Of particular interest are the ways in which Korean and other transnational migrants flexibly alter their identities in terms of the situations in which they exist. Semi-structured and informal interviews with key informants were conducted, focusing on autobiographic narrations related to the discursive structure of their identities. Information from mainstream and Korean-American newspapers and previous academic work also are central to interpreting the qualitative data. We argue that, in contrast to the common view, Los Angeles's Koreatown is a highly multicultural, heterogeneous space. Therefore, it is suggested that this area should be reconsidered as a hybrid, rather than homogeneous, space where intra- and interethnic identities are flexibly reproduced, contested, and combined in the course of localized global interactions.
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