This study examines naturalization choices and processes among Filipina marriage migrants in South Korea. Drawing on interviews with 89 Filipina marriage migrants and nine of their spouses, we show how naturalization can become a site of bargaining where female marriage migrants strategize to maximize security and optimize their life options within a patriarchal host society. Citizenship is, for most marriage migrants, informally tied to their fulfillment of gendered expectations as wives, mothers and daughters-in-laws. As such, Filipina marriage migrants’ political incorporation cannot be separated from their gendered performance in the family. We also examine how personal resources such as education and employment prospects influence migrants’ bargaining potential. By focusing on the different social positions of and resources available to female marriage migrants, we show the complex ways in which both gender and human capital influences marriage migrants’ legal and substantive citizenship.
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