Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
This paper investigates the lasting impacts of globalization on migrants and their families long after their migrations have ended. In particular it explores the various projects or plans undocumented Peruvian migrants in South Korea undertook in the effort to change their lives and the value of their migrations in an unstable economic and political climate when deportations were imminent and money was scarce. I describe these plans—such as delaying deportation to pursue an education, or entering into a love affair with another foreigner in Korea—as cosmopolitan conversions, whereby migrants not only wanted to gain the skills and abilities of cosmopolitan citizenship—to "feel at home in the world” and achieve “infinite ways of being”—but also hoped to be recognized as worthy and deserving of that status by others. I discuss how developing these projects in Korea intensified the stakes around success or failure because migrants were at the convergence of other cosmopolitan conversion projects led by the state, churches and other people in transit, which resulted in migrants both transcending and becoming entangled in barriers and new identities. Yet, cosmopolitan conversion plans never truly fail simply because they are plans that are yet to be realized. By looking at these cosmopolitan projects over the course of a decade, both during the migrants’ time in Korea and after their deportations to Peru, this paper contributes ideas about how to ethnographically study the “edge of citizenship” and the life of global configurations which have come to an end.