Helene K. Lee of Dickinson College reviews Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea, by Hae Yeon Choo. Professor Choo follows three groups of Filipina migrants’ struggles to belong in South Korea: factory workers claiming rights as workers, wives of South Korean men claiming rights as mothers, and hostesses at American military clubs who are excluded from claims—unless they claim to be victims of trafficking. Moving beyond laws and policies, she examines how rights are enacted, translated, and challenged in daily life and ultimately interrogates the concept of citizenship. Her ethnography of both migrants and their South Korean advocates show how social inequalities of gender, race, class, and nation operate in defining citizenship; which she argues emerges from negotiations about rights and belonging between South Koreans and migrants. As the promise of equal rights and full membership in a polity erodes in the face of global inequalities, this decentering highlights important contestation at the margins of citizenship.
Read the book review at https://doi.org/10.1111/imre.12330