Migration and Diasporas
The neoliberal discourses that locate the politics of success for individuals as dependent on personal responsibilities and strategies (Harris, 2004; Brown, 2006) while invoking optimism and happiness (Ahmed, 2010; Berlant, 2011), tend to lock immigrant girls/women into the “success” and “failure” dualism, tightly interlinked with their educational achievement and work participation (Conchas, 2006; McGinnis, 2009). My paper dissipates the binaries in representations of these immigrant women, focusing on Asian immigrant women—known as Damunhwa (multicultural) women in Korea—and Korean Geese Mothers in the U.S. Based on fixed notions of race/ethnicity, gender, and culture, these migrant women’s successes and failures are considered to be dependent on whether or not they are desirable wives and mothers who can support their family’s well-being and children’s educational success.
Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) philosophical orientations, particularly their concept of desires, this transnational research interrogates ideas, desires, and feelings in relation to success among Korean Geese Mothers in the U.S. and Mongolian immigrant women in South Korea. Highlighting these immigrant women’s negotiations of the tensions between their own success and their children’s academic achievement, my work troubles the static categories of Damunhwa women and Geese Mothers, examining how their desires and transnational experiences are at play as important and complex factors in making human subjects recognizable. By disrupting the monolithic images of these women, this study has implications for rethinking current discourses of multiculturalism in Korea and the dominant discourses surrounding Asian immigrant mothers in the U.S. educational contexts.