- Editor's Note
One of the most contentious and steadfast policies surrounding the ignominious Trump Administration was anti-immigration. It was the hill Team Trump was willing to die on, so much so that in its final week at the White House, the team made a push to give states up to six months to delay any new immigration policies of the incoming Biden Administration. Team Trump's derogation continued even on its last full day, sending chartered deportation flights out of the United States borders. The harshest measures on immigration in the United States were immediately checked by the new administration: Team Biden, on its first day, approved five executive orders favorable to immigration, including the halting of wall construction along the United States-Mexico border and the continuation of the DACA program that protects undocumented people from deportation.
What the White House cannot swiftly do, however, is to repair the fracture in the reasoning of Americans on the issue of people's transborder migration. Tens of millions of Americans see immigration as a cause for the decline of the white middle class—the fall of white hegemony, essentially—not realizing that the real cause is not immigration but the capitalist system, which weakens public services and sends jobs, without fail, to places of cheaper labor. The popular reaction to migration into the United States is revealing, once again, the existing system of racist discrimination and the perverted ideology of capitalism, which generates a misrecognition of causation. In fact, all over world, human migration is the analytic lens through which many systemic and ideological problems can be [End Page iii] detected. In terms of ethos, how a country responds to the movement of people into its borders is indicative of its level of tolerance and decency, not to speak of acceptance and equality.
This analytic potency of migration is superbly demonstrated in this volume's Special Section Unsettling Korean Migration: Multiple Trajectories and Experiences, guest edited by Sunhee Koo (The University of Auckland) and Jihye Kim (The University of Central Lancashire). Sunhee Koo and Jihye Kim have brought together papers on labor (Yonson Ahn and Jihye Kim), ritual life (Marcus Bell), cultural identity (Sunhee Koo), and artistic production (Hee-seung Irene Lee and Soojin Kim). The six engrossing articles deal with how the Korean diaspora—in Argentina, Germany, Japan, China, and the United States—have shaped and represented their particular situations through negotiation, resilience, and creativity. The authors are highly critical of any national framework, and they see diasporic life as contexts of not only sorrow and sacrifice but also innovation and regeneration. Sunhee Koo and Jihye Kim offer a detailed explanation in their Introduction.
The two research articles that follow the Special Section are captivating examinations of disciplines. Kisung Yi's epistemological study on the origin of prehistoric archeology in colonial Korea is a critical treatise on Imperial Japan's practice of creating the knowledge of subordinate prehistory in the colonies based on the claims of technological primitiveness. Seonsam Na's ontological study on Korean medicine and its practitioners is an inspection of a profession whose identity is challenged and redefined by market forces, competition for knowledge authority, and state involvement. Kisung Yi and Seonsam Na's articles illuminate the various interests that are consistently present in the formation and continuation of knowledge and its practice.
As the new editor of Korean Studies, I am succeeding a journal made durable by Christopher Bae and Ji Young Kim, the editor and book editor for five years before my term began. They have my gratitude. Together with the new book editor Myungji Yang, a sociologist at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, I am excited to be steering this venerable journal, but I am also aware of the needed changes in the face of the shifting global landscape of academic journal publishing. One question guiding this process will be how this journal, through the study of all things related to Korea, can be more useful in challenging our reality. [End Page iv]