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SEATRiP Winter 23 talk series

Sponsored by the SEATRiP program and the Gender & Sexuality Studies Department at UCR

Coordinated and moderated by Magnolia Yang Sao Yia


Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 4-6 pm

UCR, INTS 1113



Women Who Leave and the Men They Leave Behind: The Gendering of Migration and Mobility from Vietnam

From late night Asian soap operas to Western media coverage in the New York Times, stories of young women from rural Vietnam marrying Korean and Taiwanese men through bride market agencies abound. Indeed, since the 1990s, Vietnam has been the largest sender of Southeast Asian brides to Asia. Research has contributed nuanced examinations of women migrants’ motivations, vulnerabilities, and resourcefulness in foreign lands. Therefore, we know more about the women who leave but less about the men they leave behind. My work spotlights the the migration paths and strategies of women and those of men from the same origin communities to clarify the gendered relationship between marriage, labor, and migration. Drawing from interview and ethnographic data collected in South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam, I analyze a case in which labor and marriage migration are intertwined, but in different ways for women compared to men. Specifically, I find that women enact marriage migration as a strategy to find work overseas whereas men pursue labor migration as a means to form family domestically. By elaborating how women’s marriage-to-labor strategies and men’s labor-to-marry migration are interconnected, I show how gender operates as both a constraint on and an enabler of migration for women and men.


Phung N. Su is a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Sociology at UC San Diego. She received her Ph.D in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 2022. Broadly, her research interests center on gender, globalization, and migration, with a focus on inter-Asia and Asian America. Concretely, she examines how gender shapes strategies for migration and mobility at critical junctures of economic and cultural transformation. Her current book project is a comparative analysis of the outmigration and motivations of poor Vietnamese women who participate in international marriage migration, and those of the men they “leave behind” in rural Vietnam. Her work has received recognition from the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the Vietnam Studies Group. 



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