LesBiTrans Migrant Life in South Korea

Chelle Jones
Tuesday, May 29, 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace (across from Japanese Embassy)
10,000 won for non-members and 5,000 won for students (with student ID); free for members



Royal Asiatic Society, Korea Branch lecture series

LesBiTrans Migrant Life in South Korea



A rich scholarly literature is emerging on the experiences of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) minority migrants. However, this scholarship has tended to focus on migration to North America, Europe, and Australia of gay cisgender men. My dissertation considers the migration of lesbian, bisexual and queer women, and transgender (LBTQ) migrants to South Korea, with emphasis on their mixed-citizenship relationships with South Korean citizens. This project will examine how legal, medical, and economic structures bear on LBTQ migrant’s inter-personal kin, romantic, and chosen relationships while they live in South Korea. 


This project draws on ethnographic observation, archival research, and semi-structured interviews to answer the following questions: How do transgender and lesbian, bisexual, and queer women migrants in South Korea negotiate gender, race, and citizenship status as they secure employment, manage family ties, pursue relationships, and access healthcare abroad? How do LBTQ migrants perceive their workplace environment, healthcare resources, and economic security in host and sending countries? How do the experiences of LBTQ migrants in mixed-citizenship relationships navigating the policy and migration regimes of multiple countries differ from those that are single or in same-citizenship relationships? How do LBTQ migrants perceive human rights policies in their host and sending countries? 


Chelle Jones is an American sociologist who first arrived in South Korea in 2006 and spent 8 years living in the cities of Gwangju and Seoul. Jones is a PhD Candidate in Sociology and LGBTQ Studies at the University of Michigan. Jones graduated from Seoul National University with an MA in Korean Studies in 2014. The Fulbright Research Grant and Foreign Language and Area Studies Grants support the 14 months of dissertation fieldwork in South Korea. 



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Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch
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