Agnes SOHN

I am a Ph.D. student in socio-cultural anthropology, currently getting ready to begin fieldwork on Cheju Island in South Korea. Through funding from a Fulbright-Hays DDRA grant, I will begin fieldwork in September 2015. My project examines two new patterns of youth urban-to-rural migration to South Korea’s Cheju Island and asks how young people are using resources on this peripheral island to create alternatives to “compressed” modernity in Korea. I look comparatively at a corporate migration of a young internet company and a simultaneous wave of young adults who are leaving corporate jobs to “return to the land” on Cheju. [Cheju Island’s physical and symbolic location at the periphery of the nation, along with recent efforts by the Cheju regional government to re-brand Cheju as both an autonomous province and a global island have inspired a surge of youthful migration from the mainland in the past five years.] Drawing from anthropological literature on youth and locality, I ask: How do representations of Cheju get taken up in two emerging youth cultures on Cheju? What do the contrasts and overlaps in youth’s situated cultural production tell us about the range of alternatives available to young people in Korea as they seek to create alternatives to compressed modernity?