[Lecture Series]Caring with emotion: Korean nurses in Germany” by Prof. Yonson Ahn

09 January 2023

This lecture is a part of the lecture series under the theme “Female Skilled Labor Migration Across the Globe”.  We are organizing our fourth (online) lecture “Caring with emotion: Korean nurses in Germany” by Prof. Yonson Ahn (Goethe University Frankfurt). 

This lecture will be online on 16th January 2023, 6pm (CET). You can join from: https://uni-frankfurt.zoom.us/j/62114023005?pwd=NktjclprSlJUcDB3RDMxaGw4b3hJQT09


In line with the increasing significance of the role of transnational migration in healthcare provision – especially in the West – slightly over 11,000 nurses and nurse assistants from South Korea moved as “guest workers” (Gastarbeiter) to the former West Germany mainly between the 1960s and the 1970s. This study explores the role of emotions in the professional practice of nursing care during the interactions between the migrant nurses and the German local patients. Particular attention is paid to gendered and racialized aspects of the emotional labor carried out by the Korean migrant healthcare workers based on their experiences at work. The way in which the stereotypical image of Asian/Korean femininity constructed in the host society has been shaped into care work will be examined. Another focus is the way in which the Korean female healthcare practitioners manage their emotions and act as compassionate nurses in care delivery. They perform or manage their emotions to demonstrate a sense of compassion and empathy in nursing practices in the host country, Germany. In the process of performing their duty of care and managing their emotions over the long-term, the Korean healthcare workers also have to negotiate between providing compassionate care and coping with “compassion fatigue” in healthcare settings by performing racialized gender in a recurring manner. Their emotional labor is thereby undertaken in intersection with gender, and race/ethnicity; factors which are entangled and mutually reinforced in the performativity of gender and race/ethnicity within the context of nursing care by the “guest workers”.


Yonson Ahn is Professor, Chair of Korean Studies and Deputy Executive Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre of East Asian Studies (IZO) at the Goethe University of Frankfurt, Germany. She received her PhD degree in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Warwick in 2000. Gender and migration, with a focus on transnational nurse migration and transnational marriage migrants is her major research interest, along with the Korean diaspora and sexual violence associated with armed conflict. Her work has been published in a range of journals including Korean Studies and European Journal of Women's Studies. Her recent monograph is entitled Whose Comfort : Body, Sexuality and Identities of Korean ‘Comfort Women’ and Japanese Soldiers during WWII, London & Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2020. In addition, she has edited two volumes entitled Transnational Mobility in and out of Korea, Lanham: Lexington Books, 2020 and Korea and the Global Society: Engagement, Reciprocity, and Tension to be published by Routledge in 2022.


The event is part of the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Research Germany)-Funded project "Qualification and Skill in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia".

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