Constructing Community at the Border: Perspectives from Korean-Origin Residents in El Paso, Texas

Josue E Lopez, University of Texas at El Paso


Studies of communities at the U.S.-Mexico border have usually contrasted their views on living at the border with wider U.S. perspectives which understand the border mainly in terms of security concerns. This thesis aims to extend such studies through focusing on the Korean-origin community in El Paso, Texas, in order to examine how border perspectives are shaped through global comparisons. The study is organized around two central questions: (1) How do Korean residents experience and construct community in El Paso? (2) How do notions of the Korean border shape or remain separate from notions of the U.S.-Mexico border? Through interviews with Korean-origin residents in El Paso, it seeks to provide voice to an immigrant community that has been relatively less studied in terms of its multiple border experiences. Given contemporary global flows of national news, Korean-origin communities have remained connected to information on events related to the Korean border, and as El Paso residents also have access to everyday experiences of the U.S.-Mexico border. This study found that while the Korean community in El Paso has constructed a collective identity through churches and stores, it remains cognizant of South Korea’s rising economic stature and hence has become more confident in terms of its Korean-American identity. Alongside, while the Korean border is framed as a site of geopolitical conflicts, the El Paso-Juarez border emerges as a site of travel and exchange which connects the two borders. Overall, this thesis considers how political perspectives on the border are informed by international comparisons, especially in the case of communities that can draw on connections to more than one border experience.

Subject Area

Sociology|International Relations

Recommended Citation

Lopez, Josue E, "Constructing Community at the Border: Perspectives from Korean-Origin Residents in El Paso, Texas" (2020). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28262236.