July 23 CESSI Lecture: “When is home? Exploring Kazakhstani Koreans’ notions of place and homeland”

“When is home? Exploring Kazakhstani Koreans’ notions of place and homeland”

with Dr. Elise Ahn, International Projects Office, UW-Madison

The July 23 CESSI lecture is now available to stream here.


The collective memories of Central Asian Koreans have not been fully explored, particularly in connection to notions of “homeland” and identity. This lecture explores the linkages between participants’ family histories regarding the Korean deportation, notions of historic homeland, and participant identities regarding their “Korean-ness” through ethnographic interviews.

The interview questions were based on a study looking at the lived experiences of other diasporic communities in Kazakhstan (Li Wei, 2016; Smagulova, 2016). The broader study explores questions related to issues of social mobility, socio-economic access, and identity construction among ethnolinguistic minorities in Kazakhstan.


Elise S. Ahn is the Director of the International Projects Office at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an adjunct lecturer at Edgewood College, where she teaches research methods and the internationalization of higher education in their Doctor of Education program. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (USA) in 2011 in Education Policy Studies with a concentration on Global Studies in Education and a methodological specialization in Program Evaluation.

Before coming to UW–Madison, Elise worked at KIMEP University (Almaty, Kazakhstan) as an assistant professor and director of a master’s degree program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Her research interests focus on the intersection of space, structures, and scale in examining the effects of internationalization in education and language policy production processes.

She is also interested in issues related to language, education, and equity/access with a focus on urban contexts. She co-edited Language Change in Central Asia (with Juldyz Smagulova), which was published in 2016 and is co-editing a forthcoming special issue of World Englishes examining English in Central Asia.