Between the cosmopolitan and the parochial: the immigrant gentrifier in Koreatown, Los Angeles

Geoff DeVerteuil, Ohsoon Yun, Carolyn Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


This paper questions the currently lopsided relationship between the cosmopolitan and the parochial, in which the former is favored both conceptually and empirically. In response, we propose a relational framework for bringing them into conversation, simultaneously recasting and re-animating longstanding debates via three framing devices–the process of relationality/territoriality, disposition, and spaces of encounter–embedded in and through the subject of the immigrant-gentrifier in Koreatown, Los Angeles, itself a novel category that has hitherto eluded systematic research. We present the results of 25 interviews of Korean immigrant-gentrifiers and 10 key informant interviews. The results constitute a parochial critique that emerges as a series of conflicted paradoxes but also productive tensions: between an ostensibly transnational process compromised by a profoundly homegrown, parochial set of investors and outlooks; between a set of dispositions that seek inner-city diversity and density, yet simultaneously sheltered from its spillover costs; and spaces of encounter marked by a gap between the promise of truly open spaces and the reality of guarded and self-segregated ones. Ultimately, this paper does double duty–conceptually rebalancing the cosmopolitan-parochial relationship, but in doing so empirically elevating the emergence of the understudied immigrant-gentrifier category.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-85
Number of pages22
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies


  • Koreatown
  • Parochial
  • cosmopolitan
  • gentrification
  • immigration
  • spaces of encounter


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