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The Intimate University: Korean American Students and the Problems of Segregation



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Duke Univ Pr
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This is the edition with a publication date of 11/1/2009.

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The majority of the nearly 28,000 undergraduates at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign-including a large population of Korean American students-come from nearby metropolitan Chicago. Among the campus' largest non-white ethnicities, Korean American students come to college hoping to realize the liberal ideals of the modern American university, in which individuals can exit their comfort zones to realize their full potential regardless of race, nation, or religion. However, these ideals are compromised by their experiences of racial segregation and stereotypes, including images of instrumental striving that set Asian Americans apart. InThe Intimate University, Nancy Abelmann explores the tensions between liberal ideals and the particularities of race, family, and community in the contemporary university. Drawing on ten years of ethnographic research with Korean American students at the University of Illinois and closely following multiple generations of a single extended Korean American in the Chicago metropolitan area, Abelmann investigates the complexity of racial politics at the American university today. Racially hyper-visible and invisible, Korean American students face particular challenges as they try to realize their college dreams against the subtle, day-to-day workings of race. They frequently encounter the accusation of racial self-segregation-a charge accentuated by the fact that many attend the same Evangelical Protestant church-even as they express the desire to distinguish themselves from their families and other Korean Americans. Abelmann concludes by examining the current state of the university, reflecting on how better to achieve the university's liberal ideals despite its paradoxical celebration of diversity while remaining largely silent on race.

Author Biography

Nancy Abelmann is the Harry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
The Landscape
Here and There in Chicagoland Korean Americap. 23
The Evangelical Challenge to College and Familyp. 43
Shattered Liberal Dreamsp. 66
A Family
An (Anti-)Asian American Pre-medp. 87
Family versus Alma Materp. 106
Intimate Tracesp. 123
It's a Girl Thingp. 143
Conclusionp. 158
Notesp. 169
Bibliographyp. 183
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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