Nam Center Colloquium Series

February 22, 2023
12:00 - 13:00
Weiser Hall Room 1010 500 Church Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Migrant Conversions: Money, Religion, and Global Projects of Peruvians in South Korea

Erica Vogel

Professor, Saddleback College

Co-sponsored by the University of Michigan Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures


Register to attend via Zoom


Erica Vogel, Professor, Saddleback College
Erica Vogel, Professor, Saddleback College

Peruvian migrant workers began arriving in South Korea in large numbers in the mid-1990s, eventually becoming one of the largest groups of non-Asians in the country. Migrant Conversions shows how despite facing unstable income and legal exclusion, migrants have come to see Korea as an ideal destination, sometimes even as part of their divine destiny.

Faced with a forced end to their residence in Korea, Peruvians have developed strategies to transform themselves from economic migrants into heads of successful transnational families, influential church leaders, and cosmopolitan travelers. Set against the backdrop of the 2008 global financial crisis, Migrant Conversions explores the intersections of three types of conversions—monetary, religious, and cosmopolitan—to argue that migrants use conversions to negotiate the meaning of their lives in a constantly changing transnational context. As Peruvians carve out social spaces, they create complex and uneven connections between Peru and Korea that challenge a global hierarchy of nations and migrants. Exploring how migrants, churches, and nations change through processes of conversion reveals how globalization continues to impact people’s lives and ideas about their futures and pasts long after they have stopped moving or after a particular global moment has come to an end.

Erica Vogel is Professor of Anthropology at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California. She is a cultural anthropologist who conducts fieldwork primarily in South Korea, Peru, and Mexico looking at issues of globalization, migration, religious conversion, and transnational flows between Asia and Latin America. Her book Migrant Conversions: Transforming Connections Between Peru and South Korea was published by the UC Press in 2020 and is based on 24 months of fieldwork in Peru and South Korea with migrants and their families, their religious leaders, and government officials. Her current research project is funded by a grant from Mellon/ACLS and is called “K-Pop in Mexico: Creating and Consuming Globalization through La Ola Coreana.” She received her PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Irvine and held a Korea Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Illinois Urbana–Champaign.


2020 Migrant Conversions: Transforming Connections Between Peru and South Korea. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020.
Link to the Free Open Access Version:

2019 “K-pop in Mexico: Flash Mobs, Media Stunts, and the Momentum of Global Mutual Recognition” IN Pop Empires: Transnational and Diasporic Flows of India and Korea. Edited by Sharon Heijin Lee, Monika Mehta, and Robert Ji-Song Ku. University of Hawaii Press.

2016 “Ongoing Endings: Migration, Love, and Ethnography” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.

2016 “Migrant Narratives and Ethnographic Tropes: Navigating Tragedy, Creating Possibilities” Introduction to Special Issue with Susan Coutin. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

2014 “Predestined Migrations: Undocumented Peruvians in South Korean Churches” City & Society 26(3): 331 351.

Faculty Profile:

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