Marriage Migration and National Boundary-Making: A Comparative Study of Marriage Migration in South Korea and Canada

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An, Jiyoung




This dissertation provides a comparative analysis of marriage migration to South Korea and Canada. It examines how marriage migration has been regulated and how it has contributed to national boundary-making in these countries. In each country's endeavours to manage the population and shape the boundaries of the nation, the entry and integration of marriage migrants are regulated reflecting intersecting social relations of gender, race/ethnicity, class, age, and the divide between global South/North. In this dissertation, I develop five key arguments. Firstly, Korea and Canada have exerted hegemonic power over the entry of marriage migrants from developing countries. In Korea, the entry of female marriage migrants is encouraged as desirable source of immigration for their expected role as reproducers of the patrilineal Korean nation, and gendered subjects who are expected to solve the country's crisis of social reproduction. In Canada, spousal and partner immigration currently takes a smaller role in reproducing the Canadian nation and is perceived more as an undesirable source of immigration. Even though the direction of each government is different, each government has built gendered, racialized/ethnicized and classed mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion at their national border and within the nation. Secondly, I argue that neoliberal logic and human capital thinking function as a tool to divide migrants into 'productive' migrants and 'unproductive' migrants. Whereas family class immigrants in Canada are discursively constructed as 'unproductive,' marriage migrants and their children in Korea are hierarchized based on their potential cultural resources, which can be transferred to economic assets for the Korean economy. Thirdly, I argue that discourses of 'fraudulent marriage' serve as an effective governmental tool to securitize and exclude certain gendered and racialized marriage migrants in both countries. Fourthly, visa and immigration officers play a major role as gatekeepers, shaping the boundaries of the nation by regulating the entry and belonging of marriage migrants to the nation. Finally, I argue that the multiple processes of national boundary-making are negotiated by marriage migrants who employ a variety of successful and less successful strategies in order to be accepted as 'legitimate' members of the nation.






Carleton University

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