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Title: Community of Strangers: Itaewon from 'Americanized' Ghetto to 'Multicultural' Space
Authors: KIM JI YOUN
Keywords: urban, community, stranger, Itaewon, Seoul
Issue Date: 6-Mar-2013
Source: KIM JI YOUN (2013-03-06). Community of Strangers: Itaewon from 'Americanized' Ghetto to 'Multicultural' Space. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: With an increased migration in urban areas, there has been a revitalization of the notion of community. Much of existing literature on communities assumes that community share singular identity and delineate its spatial and cultural boundaries accordingly. This ways of representation of ethnic communities, however, only result in naturalizing ethnic communities and clear distinction about who is the hosting group and who are `strangers?. In addition, although much empirical research has invigorated community study by providing different cases of ethnic communities, many of them have not contested the traditional implications of the notion of community. To redefine and enrich the implications of the conception of community, my research project analyzes Itaeown, which has been known as foreigners? community in Korea. The spatial occupation by American army base since the early 1950s and its economic and socio-cultural influences shaped Itaewon as a camp town facilitating soldiers, which was a notorious `Americanized ghetto?but also was a culturally abundant place. In tandem with the decreased number of soldiers, the influx of variegated foreigners from Westerners to Muslim populations has transformed the cultural landscapes of Itaewon into `multicultural ethnic community.? The Korean government aims to shape Itaewon into a `multicultural community? by promoting its foreignness in an ethnically homogeneous society. As such, Itaewon has been externally defined as foreigners? community by the national desires to economically deploy the space as and to spatially bound strangers. In this historical context, there are heterogeneous groups of people in a compact space, sharing neither a common identity nor an identical goal. The heterogeneity as well as the external defining forces have made no singular group enjoy privilege. However, the ontological commonness in terms sharing the temporal and spatial conditions has contributed a community exist in this space. As there is no particular hosting group, everyone is strangers to each other, i.e. community of strangers.
Appears in Collections:Ph.D Theses (Open)

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