The Alienation of Second-Generation Korean Brazilians from Ethnic Churches in São Paulo

Kim, Jihye orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4254-7114 (2020) The Alienation of Second-Generation Korean Brazilians from Ethnic Churches in São Paulo. Seoul Journal of Korean Studies, 33 (2). pp. 519-543. ISSN 1225-0201

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Despite the vital role played by ethnic churches in the retention of ethnic culture and a sense of identity, a significant proportion of second-generation Korean Brazilians drift away from their churches. This “silent exodus” from Korean religious organizations in São Paulo raises the question of how Korean Brazilians maintain a sense of belonging and community after their departure. Based on ethnographic research conducted in São Paulo, this study aims to explore the diverse types of experiences of second-generation Korean Brazilians who have become disaffiliated with their ethnic churches, in comparison to those who have not. Young Korean Brazilians – whether churchgoers or not – tend to be highly involved in a social life with coethnics, illustrating that not taking part in ethnic churches does not seem to be major factor in their forging of a sense of belonging, community, and identity. The findings further suggest that, influenced by various factors, such as this group’s hybridized sense of culture, its socioeconomic status, and the high presence of a well-established Japanese community, this particular phenomenon should be interpreted in light of the position Korean Brazilians occupy within an ethnically complex and socially and economically stratified Brazilian society.

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