Between Two Homelands: Diasporic Nationalism and Academic Pilgrimage of the Korean Christian Community in Jerusalem

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This article brings a transnational approach to the concept of diasporic nationalism, often narrowly conceptualized through the paradoxical link between displaced nation and territory. Based on a one-year ethnographical account of the Korean Christian community in Jerusalem, the article aims to challenge the already troubled concept of diasporic nationalism through the prism of a religious supranational “homecoming” to the Holy Land that might both enhance the national identity and transcend the very significance of nation and nationalism. Rather than viewing diasporic individuals as brokers, educators, and even as “exemplary citizens” or ambassadors of their historical homelands, I suggest moving away from a “hypernationalist” framing of diaspora as an extended nation toward a nuanced understanding of diasporic action and agency. By juxtaposing national and religious nostalgia for “imagined homelands,” I argue that while national identity makes Korean community members outsiders in an unwelcoming Israeli society, their status as Christians brings them back to their religious origins through what I call an “academic pilgrimage.” I ask how the Korean Christian community, modeled on the concept of nation-within-nation, negotiates its multiple identities and porous national and religious boundaries that can reinforce, overlap, or contradict one another both inwardly and outwardly.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-70
Number of pages34
JournalS/N Korean Humanities
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

The Institute of the Humanities for Unification


  • academic pilgrimage
  • diasporic agency
  • diasporic nationalism
  • homecoming
  • imagined nostalgia
  • Korean Christian diaspora


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