Jan 25: Erin Aeran Chung "Contingent Citizenship: Two Tales of Political Incorporation in Japan and the United States

January 18, 2023


Wednesday, January 25

3:30 - 5:00 PM

Charles E. Merrill Lounge


How do national states and societies come to define specific populations as foreign? And how does this racialization process affect political claims-making? Focusing on the Korean diasporic populations in Japan and the United States from the early 1900s to the mid-1960s, this talk will examine how citizenship policies have structured and constrained their relationships to both the host and sending states. Chung argues that the terms of each community’s political incorporation racialized both groups as foreigners and, at the same time, structured opportunities for specific forms of political participation in their host societies. While postwar citizenship policies in Japan stripped Koreans of their Japanese citizenship, they created openings for Koreans to gain political influence vis-à-vis their homeland and host states. By contrast, postwar legislation that made Korean immigrants eligible for U.S. citizenship structured their inclusion in a highly contingent way and had a chilling effect on their political activities. Citizenship for both communities, however, was a critical source of diasporic mobilization in their quest for national liberation and reunification of their homeland. Rather than assume that citizenship acquisition is always politically empowering, this talk will examine how citizenship acquisition can be a source of expanded institutionalized rights, belonging, and political voice but also a conduit for demobilization and disempowerment.


Erin Aeran Chung is the Charles D. Miller Professor of East Asian Politics in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She previously served as founding co-director of the Racism, Immigration, and Citizenship (RIC) Program and director of the East Asian Studies Program at Hopkins. She is the author of Immigration and Citizenship in Japan (Cambridge, 2010) and Immigrant Incorporation in East Asian Democracies (Cambridge, 2020), which received the 2021 ASA Asia and Asian America Section Transnational Asia Book Award, Honorable Mention for the 2021 APSA Migration & Citizenship Section Book Award, and the 2021 Research Excellence Award from the Korea Ministry of Education and the National Research Foundation of Korea. She is currently serving as co-president of the APSA Migration and Citizenship Section, co-editor of the Politics and Society of East Asia Elements series at Cambridge University Press, and co-P.I. for the Initiative on Critical Responses to Anti-Asian Violence (CRAAV) at Hopkins. Her research has been supported by grants from the Academy of Korean Studies, the Japan Foundation, the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies.