June 30, 2014 / Conference: IAG/NZGS (Institute of Australian Geographers/ New Zealand Geographical Society) Conference

The University of Melbourne, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

Dongsei Kim presented his ongoing research "Spaces of Citizenships: Interrogating the Corporeality of the Sino-Korean Border" in the IAG/NZGS (Institute of Australian Geographers/ New Zealand Geographical Society) Conference. The paper was presented in "Border crossings sovereignty/security and national subjectivities" session chaired by Anoma Pieris, Melbourne University.


Citizenship is one of the most fundamental determinants of how one experiences border spaces and its expansive interconnected territories. Consequently, this difference in citizenship—who holds which citizenship—fundamentally shifts the way one perceives, engages, uses, and subverts bordering practices. The greater contrast in citizenship instigates a greater differential in one’s experience of a border territory. Here bordering practices refers to Joseph Nevins’ (2002) view that frame borders as continual construction of national identities and exclusivities enabled by the ongoing ‘dividing practices,’ such as the perpetual ‘us and them’ defining processes.
Further, the paper interrogates how acute differences in one’s spatial experience of a border might emerge from physically identical border as a consequence of differences in citizenship using Craig Martin’s (2011) ‘desperate passenger’ and Liven de Cauter’s (2004) ‘capsule’ metaphor. The paper studies the Sino-Korean border, where, how extreme types of citizenship engender different spatial experience can be best understood. Interrogating this specific border helps us to decipher and reveal how one’s citizenship, specifically impact and instigate one’s use, experience, and construction of border spaces.
The paper focuses its interrogation on two extreme conditions that are most publicly discussed. The first narrative traces how the underprivileged North Korean (DPRK) citizens illegally leave and abandon their country, mainly to defect to South Korea and some to the US for survival and freedom. For instance, the North Koreans who are understood as ‘desperate passengers’ here has to enact out the Paul Virilio’s (2006) ‘violence of speed.’ These ‘desperate passengers’ who cross and reach their destinations are required to go through series of border spaces that are ‘devoid of the protective cushioning of capsularisation.’ The second narrative traces the other extreme end of the spectrum. It follows the privileged group of Western tourists who visit North Korea on arranged tours. In contrast to the desperate passengers, they travel through the border by consuming the ‘protective, capsularised, and legitimized forms of mobilities.’
In conclusion, the paper attempts to demonstrate the significance of the exclusive membership inherent in the notion of citizenship and how they fundamentally alter the way in which borders spaces are contingently experienced and used. This offers an entry point for the notion of citizenship to be explicitly included in the ongoing spatial discourses on borders. Further, by deeply understanding how latent—yet fundamental the notion of citizenship shape border spaces—one can also start to imagine new innovative ways to construct, operate, and deconstruct borders spaces that privilege inclusions over exclusions.

Link to the Conference Program


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