During this fellowship I intend to work on the final publication that will conclude my research project Technologies of Governmentality and Migration Policies in South Korea and Taiwan which I developed as a research fellow at IIAS in 2008. The subjects of migration, social cohesion and citizenship are among the most important political and social challenges in both South Korea and Taiwan since the late 1980s. Despite similar socio-economic and demographic conditions, these two societies have developed very different strategies to cope with labour shortages and the crisis of social reproduction and care. This research project aims at developing a comparative study of immigration policies in South Korea and Taiwan by examining the relationships between the (im)migration policies, governing techniques and migrants' experiences. Several articles on comparative immigration policies in East Asia and on return migration have been published with the support of the Korea Foundation and the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
The projected final publication will deal with migrants’ negotiation strategies vis-à-vis the state and the labour and marriage markets in the context of a changing and developmental immigration regime. Drawing from oral history interviews with 19 Korean Chinese (Joseonjok) women of various age, marital experience, employment and citizenship status, I study how their migratory trajectories, i.e. their transnational mobility between China and South Korea, and their social mobility between the roles as migrant workers, wives, care workers, students, dongbo (ethnic returnees) and citizens, are structured by the changing migration taxonomies and governmentality in South Korea. Migration taxonomies aim to categorize migrants along class, ethnic and gender lines, who are subjected to different governmental techniques. However, I argue that the ambiguity and internal contradictions of these taxonomies render opportunities for migrants to move between them. In particular, I will focus on the factors of life course (age and marital status), gendered labour market, and welfare and (old-age) care policies in shaping their choices and options for mobility. This approach contributes to the current scholarship on migration and transnationalism in that it conceptualizes migration taxonomies, i.e. labour, marriage, trafficking, and student migration a continuum. It also shifts away from the predominantly political-economic analysis of migration patterns by emphasizing the significance of life course and welfare regimes in migration studies.