Skip to main content

Global Asian City: Migration, Desire and the Politics of Encounter in 21st Century Seoul




Global Asian City: Migration, Desire and the Politics of Encounter in 21st Century Seoul

Francis L. Collins

ISBN: 978-1-119-37998-0 June 2018 Wiley-Blackwell 224 Pages



Global Asian City provides a unique theoretical framework for studying the growth of cities and migration focused on the notion of desire as a major driver of international migration to Asian cities.

  • Draws on more than 120 interviews of emigrants to Seoul—including migrant workers from Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, English teachers from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, UK and USA, and international students at two elite Korean universities
  • Features a comparative account of different migrant populations and the ways in which national migration systems and urban processes create differences between these groups
  • Focuses on the causes of international migrant to Seoul, South Korea, and reveals how migration has transformed the city and nation, especially in the last two decades


Series Editor’s Preface vi

Acknowledgements vii

1 Introduction 1

2 Desire, Assemblage and Encounter: Beyond Regimes of Migration Management 24

3 Migration Regimes, Migrant Biographies and Discrepancy 47

4 Migration, the Urban Periphery and the Politics of Migrant Lives 71

5 Channelling Desire and Diversity 101

6 Negotiating Privilege and Precarity in Suburban Seoul 128

7 Multicultural Presence and Fractured Futures 153

8 Conclusion 181

References 194

Index 209

'This intriguing piece of work casts migrants as urban actors, desires as social forces, and the city as assemblage. This work helps readers understand how migrants, desire, and the city shape each other through their encounters. It leads us to view the relationship between migration and cities in the East Asian context through the lens of the making and re-making of Seoul.'
HaeRan Shin, Department of Geography, Seoul National University  

'This is one of the first books to bring together two critical developments in 21st century Asia: the emergence of global cities and increasing immigration. Empirically rich, theoretically sophisticated and methodologically innovative, the book reveals how the making of Seoul as a global city is deeply entwined with migration as a process of becoming at the individual level.'
Biao Xiang, School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford