Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Albert Park

Rights Information

© 2016 Julie Kim


U.S. military camptown prostitution in South Korea was a system ridden with entangled structures of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. This thesis aims to elucidate the ways in which racial ideologies, in conjunction with gendered nationalist ideologies, materialized in the spaces of military base communities. I contend that camptowns were hybrid spaces where the meaning and representation of race were constantly in flux, where the very definitions of race and gender were contested, affirmed, and redefined through ongoing negotiations on the part of relevant actors. The reading of camptown prostitutes and American GIs as sexualized and racialized bodies will provide a nuanced understanding of the power dynamics unique to camptown communities. The first part of this study consists of a discussion of Korean ethnic nationalism and its complementary relation to U.S. racial ideologies. Denied of an ethnonational identity, camptown prostitutes denationalized themselves by rejecting Korean patriarchy and resorting to White American masculinity to craft a new self-identity. Another component of this thesis involves American GIs and their racialized self-identities. Recognizing American soldiers as products of a specific political and social context, I argue that military camptowns were largely conceived as spaces of normalized abnormality that provided a ripe opportunity to challenge existing social, economic, racial, and sexual norms.