Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociology, University Of Toronto

Hae Yeon Choo’s research centers on gender, transnational migration, and citizenship to examine global social inequality. In her empirical and theoretical work, she employs an intersectional approach to social inequalities, integrating gender, race, and class in her analyses. This approach provided the foundation for an article published in Sociological Theory in 2010 (with Myra Marx Ferree), which offers an intersectional methodology to address the complex dimensions of analysis in sociological research. She has also translated Patricia Hill Collins’s Black Feminist Thought into Korean.

Her book Decentering Citizenship: Gender, Labor, and Migrant Rights in South Korea (Stanford University Press, 2016) and related articles (published in Gender & Society and Qualitative Sociology) offer an account of how inequalities of gender, race, and class affect migrants’ practice of rights through a comparative study of three groups of Filipina women in South Korea—factory workers, wives of South Korean men, and hostesses at American military camptown clubs. Based on 18 months of multi-sited ethnographic research, this research delves into the marginal spaces in which non-citizen migrants negotiate their rights, entitlements, and belonging in South Korea in the absence of shared ethnic nationhood, and develop an understanding of citizenship, not as a simple legal category, defined in top-down fashion for an individual by a nation-state, but rather as an interactive accomplishment involving both the host society and the migrants as active agents constrained by the structures of law and policy.

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of Wisconsin / Madison
Citizenship at the Margins: Filipina Migrant Women and the Negotiation of National Boundaries in South Korea

This project examines the interactive process of boundary-making between citizens and non-citizens where gender plays a central role. By conceptualizing citizenship as a relational process, I look at how this boundary is negotiated and contested through discourse and everyday interaction among locally grounded actors in the margins of the state. My ethnography specifically focuses on variations in citizenship claims as framed by three different groups of Filipina migrant women living at the margins of a global city – Seoul, South Korea. Through an examination of the-experiences of "labor migrants" working in a factory town in the female-dominated light manufacturing industry, "marriage migrants" living in rural communities with their South Korean husbands, and "entertainers" working at bars and clubs on an American military base, this dissertation asks {1) what discursive frames are being utilized by the state and NGO actors in their integration efforts for migrant women; {2) how do migrant women themselves reproduce, challenge and resist these frames; and (3) how do the differences in gendered notions of respectability and citizenship affect the negotiations over boundaries between citizens and non-citizens in practice across these three sites.