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Nationalizing Transnationalism: A Comparative Study of the "Comfort Women" Social Movement in China, Taiwan, and South Korea  

Alvarez, Maria del Pilar (Korean Studies Program (AKSIDICSO) at Universidad del Salvador (USAL))
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Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia / v.19, no.1, 2020 , pp. 8-30 More about this Journal
Most literature on the "comfort women" social movement focuses on the case of Korea. These works tend to transpose the meanings generated by South Korean organizations onto the transnational network, assuming certain homogeneity of repertoires and identities among the different social actors that comprise this network. Even though there is some degree of consensus about demands, repertoires, and advocacy strategies at the international level, does this same uniformity exist at the national level? In each country, what similarities and differences are present in the laboratories of ideas, relationships, and identities of social actors in the network? Symbolically and politically, do they challenge their respective societies in the same way? This article compares this social movement in South Korea, China, and Taiwan. My main argument is that the constitutive base for this transnational network is the domestic actions of these organizations. It is in the domestic sphere that these social actors reinforce their agendas, reinvent their repertoires, transform their identities, and expand their submerged networks, allowing national movements to retain their latency and autonomy. Following Melucci's relational approach to the study of social movements, this research is based on a qualitative analysis of institutional documents, participant observation, and open-ended interviews with members of the main social actors.
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