The extra-territorial nation-building in flows and relations: North Korea in the global networks and an ethnic enclave

Authors: HaeRan Shin*, Seoul National University
Topics: Political Geography, Migration, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: extra-territorial, nation, flows, relations, North Korea, refugees
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Council Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study looks at how transnational refugees’ discourses and practices constitute a new version of the nation outside the materially bordered geography of the country. The research suggests the notion of ‘extra-territorial nation-building’ that refers to the social and cultural practices that build a nation as a collective identity and imagined society outside the national territory. I focus on organisational and discursive activities of North Korean refugees who escaped from North Korea to South Korea first and then moved on to the United Kingdom (UK). Based on ethnographic fieldwork including participant observation and in-depth interviews, this research contributes to the understanding of post-territorial and relational approaches to the territoriality of the nation.Using Korea town in a London suburb of New Malden as an exemplar, this case study offers a flow-based and relational approach to the following two aspects. First, it looks at how nation-building in flows is operationalized in the formation of global networks initiated and led by North Korean refugees who live in European countries. Second, it looks at how nation-building in relations results in the establishment of North Korean language schools, churches, and associations through interactions with South Korean migrants in New Malden. Despite their differences, the actions and reactions of these two groups coalesced to create a new North Korea that includes elements from North Korea and borrows aspects from South Korea and Europe. Together they contribute to the re-territorialisation of an extra-territorial North Korea and South Korea.

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