Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Irvine, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9589
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleRubio, Elizabeth H., U. of California, Irviine, CA - To aid research on 'Undocumented in Multicultural America: Racialization, Solidarity and Place in Korean American Immigrant Rights Organizing,' supervised by Dr. Eleana Kim
ELIZABETH H. RUBIO, then a graduate student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded funding in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Undocumented in Multicultural America: Racialization, Solidarity and Place in Korean American Immigrant Rights Organizing,’ supervised by Dr. Eleana Kim. The 1992 L.A. uprising served, for many Korean Americans (KA), as a rude baptism into U.S. racial hierarchies and motivated progressive KAs to engage more deeply in racial justice work. In 1994, Korean Resource Center (KRC), a longstanding progressive KA voice in Southern California, joined with KA organizers across the country to create the National Korean American Services and Education Consortium (NAKASEC). Rapid growth in undocumented KA migration after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, brazen protest strategies, commitment to multiracial movement solidarity, and a conceptualization of immigrant justice that decenters legalization and rightsbased equality, have made KRC/NAKASEC increasingly influential, yet controversial figures in immigrant justice worlds. Through two years of ethnographic research with KRC, NAKASEC, their allies and opponents, this research argues that in deliberately mobilizing their construction as ‘model minorities’ and ‘DREAMers,’ and challenging assumptions about the desirability of state recognition, NAKASEC/KRC’s work reveals how categories and goals of liberal democracy are being contested in contemporary U.S. politics. In examining the projects these organizers undertake in pursuing justice outside of legalization, this research shows how growing disillusionment with electoral politics has brought immigrants to turn away from the state and towards each other for material survival.