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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien


German Institute for Japanese Studies
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho, Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo 102-0094, Japan

03 – 3222 5077
03 – 3222 5420



Joint Research Group on ‘China, Migration, and the global Context’ of the Max Weber Foundation and the Hong Kong Baptist University

Migration and East Asian Societies: Comparative Perspectives

July 28, 2017

Workshop introduction

To date, theories and conceptualization of human mobility are still predominantly developed from a perspective that prioritizes the study of movement from poorer to richer countries (i.e., South-to-North). Frameworks for conceptualizing other directions of movement such as South-to-South, North-to-South or within and across regions are scarce, despite that these movements constitute a major part of global human mobility. Systematic differences in migration legislation, public opinion toward migrants, migrants’ fields of employment, and power relations between migrants and groups in receiving societies (which are mostly non-Western, developing countries) compel us to doubt the global generalizability of conventional migration models. This workshop aims to contribute to problematizing and advancing scholarship on migration/ human mobility concerning non-Western countries. The workshop consists of three panels: 1) Chinese human mobility in the Global South and Global North; 2) Marriage migration and care commodification in East Asian societies; 3) Cultural capital, migration and inequality.

Panelists and Discussants

Prof. Yonson Ahn (PhD, University of Warwick) is a professor and chair of Korean Studies at Goethe University of Frankfurt. Her research interests include gender and migration; Korean diasporas; gender-based violence in conflicts; and historical controversies in East Asia and oral history. Her current research project is related to transnational nurse migration and transnational marriage migrants.

Prof. Lara Tienshi Chen is a Professor at Waseda University. Received Ph.D. from University of Tsukuba in 2000. Undertook research at Chinese University of Hong Kong (1994-1995), Harvard University (1997-2000) and conducted postdoctoral studies at the University of Tokyo (2000-2003). Being associate professor and organized numerous events, talks and exhibitions while working in National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka (2003-2013) and started teaching at Waseda Univeristy since 2013. Her research topics include Chinese diaspora, statelessness and global migration. She also founded the NGO group Stateless Network in 2009 to advocate and support stateless issues.

Dr. Matthew M. Chew is an Associate Professor at the Sociology Department of Hong Kong Baptist University in Hong Kong. His research interests include social theory, cultural sociology, sociology of knowledge, Chinese societies, and sociology of popular culture. He has published numerous articles in journals including Current Sociology, The China Quarterly, New Media and Society, Cultural Studies, and China Information.

Prof. Dr. Sabine Dabringhaus, chair of panel three. She studied Sinology, History and Political Science at the Albert-Ludwigs-University in Freiburg and the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. From October 1987 until July 1990 she earned her PhD at the Institute of Qing-History (Qingshi Yanjiusuo) at the People’s University of China (Zhongguo Renmin Daxue) in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. From 1994 to 2003, she held a research position (C1) at the Institute for East Asian Studies (Sinology) at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich (Chair: Prof. Dr. Roderich Ptak). In January 2003 she received her habilitation there (Ludwig Maximilians Universität München). From December 2002 until December 2008 she was a Junior Professor at the Department for Modern and East Asian History at the University of Freiburg’s Department of History. In December 2008 she assumed a newly established chair position for East Asian History. Her research focuses on the Sino-Manchurian Qing Empire (1644-1911) in the context of comparative imperial history, court societies in Asia and Europe, nationalism in China during 20th century, the history of the Chinese humanities, the cultural basis of Chinese modernity, the history of Central Asia (especially Tibet and Mongolia) and the history of Chinese diasporas in Southeast Asia.

Dr. Isaac Gagné is a Senior Research Fellow and the Managing Editor of the DIJ’s peer-reviewed journal Contemporary Japan. He received his PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Yale University and has worked at the Waseda University Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and The University of Hong Kong. His research focuses on four broad fields of inquiry: 1) Gender, sexuality, and popular culture; 2) Religion, morality, and ethics; 3) Mental health, psychotherapy, and well-being; 4) Globalization and migration. His current research is on the localization of global mental health care in Japan. In particular, this project focuses on two issues: 1) The psychosocial challenges and suffering produced by the March 11, 2011 disaster and protracted recovery process, and 2) How global discourses and practices of mental health care are localized in the Japanese context amidst a resilient stigma against mental illness and skepticism of psychotherapy. In addition, he is currently working on a book manuscript based on his dissertation research on the relationship between religion, secularity, and morality under socioeconomic and demographic changes in contemporary Japan.

Ms. Elaine Gao is a PhD candidate of Hong Kong Baptist University and a member of the Joint Research Group of the Max Weber Foundation. Her research explores how the shifting global economic boundary and geo-political order in contemporary China imply to migrant female subjects and how the diversified life of marriage migration engenders the rethinking on new socio-spatial practices and simultaneously reshapes the intertwined institutions. One implication for scholarship is addressed to ongoing debates in migration research and new perspectives of bordering between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The study will provide reference for social changes brought over in Hong Kong and further understand the socio-cultural dynamics and the border governance of migrant population.

Prof. Miwako Hosoda, Vice-President of Seisa University, has been doing her sociological research by observing human relations in the healthcare and environmental ethics field. She graduated from the Department of Sociology, University of Tokyo, in 1992, and received an MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of Tokyo.  After working as a research fellow for The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, she studied at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Harvard School of Public Health. Prof. Hosoda has been a member of the Board of Directors of the International Sociological Association, and the Japan Society of Health and Medical Sociology.

Prof. Jongyoung Kim is an Associate Professor and Head in the Department of Sociology at Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Korea. He wrote two books and two dozens of articles in Korean and English. His first book, Dominated Dominators: U.S. Degrees and the Birth of Korean Elites (2015), won the Book of the Year Award in Korean Sociological Association. He is interested in global education, knowledge politics, and science and technology studies.

Prof. Masako Kudo is a sociocultural anthropologist and professor at Kyoto Women’s University. Her current research focuses on transnational experiences and identity-formation of second generation Muslim youth born to Japanese mothers and Pakistani fathers. Her recent publications include: “The Evolution of Transnational Families: Bi-national Marriages between Japanese Women and Pakistani Men.” Critical Asian Studies, 49 (1): 18-37.

Dr. Katy N. Lam is an Assistant Professor of the Department of Applied Social Sciences of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She is also a Research Fellow of Migration, China, and the Global Context Research Group of the Max Weber Foundation, Germany. Her research interests are on globalization dynamics of Chinese enterprises and Chinese international migration in Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as Hong Kong emigration. Her recent publications include Chinese State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in West Africa: A Triple-Embedded Globalization, published by Routledge.

Prof. Pei-Chia Lan is Distinguished Professor of Sociology at National Taiwan University and was a postdoctoral fellow at University of California, Berkeley, a Fulbright scholar at New York University, and a Radcliffe-Yenching fellow at Harvard University. Her book Global Cinderellas: Migrant Domestics and Newly Rich Employers in Taiwan won several awards, including a Distinguished Book Award from the Sex and Gender Section of the American Sociological Association. Her second book, Parenting across the Pacific: Immigration, Culture and Class Inequality in Taiwan and the US, will be published by Stanford University Press in 2018.

Ms. Shermaine Li is an undergraduate student at the Sociology Department of Hong Kong Baptist University in Hong Kong.

Prof. Gracia Liu-Farrer is professor of sociology at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Japan, leading the Migration and Citizenship Research Group at Waseda Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies. Her research examines immigrants’ economic, social and political practices in Japan and investigates the global mobility patterns of Chinese students and wealthy individuals. Her new project compares foreign skilled workers’ experiences in German and Japanese labor markets, exploring how global labor mobilities change meanings of work as well as organizational practices.

Ms. Caroline M. Schöpf is a doctoral fellow of the Joint Research Group ‘Migration, China, and the Global Context’ by the Max Weber Foundation and Hong Kong Baptist University. Her PhD project studies compares the labor market incorporation and social relations with the receiving society of highly skilled White and South Asian migrants in Hong Kong. This ties to her wider research interest of comparing South-to-North with North-to-South migration. She was born in socialist East Germany and moved to West Germany as a child. She holds a M.A. in Japanese and Chinese studies, has lived and worked in Asia (Japan, Hong Kong and China) for 8 years, and speaks fluent Chinese and Japanese. Her own rich migration experience sparked her interest in migration and ethnic inequality. Caroline’s work has been presented at international conferences. Her forthcoming projects include conference presentations at the Black Sociologist Association, European and American Sociological Association annual meetings.

Prof. Franz Waldenberger is Director of German Institute for Japanese Studies Tôkyô, Max Weber Foundation. He is on leave from Munich University where he holds the professorship for Japanese Economy at the Munich School of Management. His research focuses on the Japanese Economy, Corporate Governance and International Management. He has published numerous articles and books on the Japanese economy and is member of the editorial board of Japan and Asia related social science and business Journals. He was visiting professor at Osaka City University, Hitotsubashi University, Tsukuba University, the University of Tokyo and Shimomura Fellow at the Research Institute of Capital Formation of the Development Bank of Japan. He is member of the German Japan Forum, an advisory body to the German and Japanese government and member of the board of the Japanese-German Business Association (DJW).

Prof. Liulan Wang-Kanda is an Associate Professor is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Global and Regional Studies, Doshisha University(同志社大学). She was born in Kobe City, and was raised by a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother. Her research topic centers on trans-boundary networks formation based on religion and ethnicity. She has been doing long-term field research on the Chinese Muslims in Thailand and she has published a book entitled Chinese Muslim Diaspora and Coexistence in Northern Thailand (in Japanese) in 2011. This book was awarded The 1st Japan Consortium for Area Studies (JCAS) Award, Toryu-sho (Budding Project 登龍賞Category) in 2011. She recently has started to conduct a research on Chinese Christian communities in Asia.


8:30 A.M. - 9:00 A.M.

Light refreshments provided

9:00 A.M. - 9:30 A.M.
Welcome note

Franz Waldenberger

German Institute for Japanese Studies

Prof. Sabine Dabringhaus
University of Freiburg

9:30 A.M. - 11:30 A.M.
Panel 1: Marriage, migration and care in East Asian societies

Chair and Discussant:
Dr. Isaac Gagné
German Institute for Japanese Studies

Caring practices of migrant women have generated the resurgence of a series of parallel debates. This session highlights the lack of attention to the care-related issues in the literatures of transnationalism and social reproduction beyond the Western societies. Compared to research on reproductive labor flowing from the Global South to the Global North, that on care circulation of migrants in Asia and flows within and across national boundaries is much less developed. A rethinking on the complexities of migrant experience, on how gendered migration intersects with various social fabrics, and how globalization varies at the trans- and/or sub-national scale, would deepen our understanding of marriage migration and globalized commodification of care in an increasingly interconnected world. This session aims to facilitate academic exchange on the important yet under-theorized topic of transformed intimate relations and marriage migration in the Global South. Researchers are invited to share findings or current projects on the nuanced dimensions of care related to migration processes and to connect research on care at different geographic locations at the societal and individual level.

Living with “Dual Stigma”: Discrimination against non-Japanese Asian brides married to Japanese male

Prof. Miwako Hosoda
Seisa University

As Japan surged into its period of economic wealth from the 1980s, fewer women chose to marry men who were in the farming industry. This became a large social issue. In rural communities, traditional values were still deeply engrained; women were just seen as yome (bride) and their primary duties lied in doing the housework, work the fields, help their husbands, look after the family from raising the kids to caring for their parents-in-law. During this period, feminism was also a growing movement and women who did not agree with such traditional customs chose not to become a yome in a farming household. This forced farming men to look beyond Japanese women and instead take foreign women as their bride. The women that slipped into this role were Asian women, especially those from the Philippines. Tours were arranged to “find a bride” and many farming men would go to the Philippines, have brief interactions with the local women, and get married. The women who were brought to Japan through this process were forced to suffer the double burden of stigma and discrimination by being a woman and a foreigner in the Japanese society. Similarly, their children also go through much suffering by being “half” or “mixed.” This presentation will include a detailed account of the situation and raise potential solutions to this problem.

Globalized care and multi-directional mobility by transnational families - A case of bi-national marriages between Japanese women and Pakistani men

Prof. Masako Kudo
Kyoto Women’s University

This paper presents an overview of findings from a longitudinal study on bi-national marriages between Japanese women and Pakistani men. This type of bi-national marriage in which women from the global North marry men from the global South has been largely ignored in existing studies on marriage migration. Through this case, I demonstrate how gender, religion, class and economic disparity between the nations intersected in the ways families practice care and reproduce themselves. I also show how the life strategies taken by this type of bi-national marriage have generated multi-directional mobility by family members as their lifecycle progressed. In this presentation, after briefly describing the socio-economic backgrounds of the Japanese-Pakistani couples, I focus on the emergence of transnationally split families in which Japanese wives relocate to Pakistan with their children and their Pakistani husbands remain in Japan to work and send remittances to Pakistan. In this type of family, kin networks are mobilized across borders to care for the young and aged, which results in expanded and complex interconnections across borders. More recently, a new form of circulatory migration has been observed in which children who have been educated abroad began “returning” to Japan mostly to receive university education. In conclusion, I describe the possibilities and constraints that members in this type of transnationally split family face and the implications they may have for the dynamics of transnational families, particularly issues related to social mobility across space and generations in transnational contexts.

“Family making project” by state: Marriage migrants of Asian women in South Korea

Prof. Yonson Ahn
Goethe University of Frankfurt

South Korea’s position has recently shifted from a “sending country” to a “receiving country” of migrants. The influx of female marriage migrants mainly from other parts of Asia such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Japan, Mongolia, Cambodia and the CIS has been on a steep rise in Korean society since the 1990s. This study looks at the marriage migrants from Asia who married Korean men and settled in South Korea and casts on a critical look at the government-endorsed “family making project” through maternal citizenship. A second aim is to deconstruct the image of the victimized marriage migrant women and to show their capacity to make appropriate choices of action within a particular spatio-temporal and culturally defined context. This study is based on secondary sources and oral narratives from in-depth interviews. The first question to be answered is what gender roles are expected or imposed by the marital family and society on the female marriage migrants in response to the recent crisis of social reproduction such as the low-birth and aging crisis. This study moves on to exploring how these women maintain their sense of self-identity and gain bargaining power in the patriarchal Korean family and society with a strong sense of homogeneity. This question leads to the way in which the marriage migrant women negotiate and contest the Korean constructions of gendered identity. The primary focus will be on the ways in which migrant wives cope with demands and pressure from the marital family and society. Rather than positioning the women as passive victims, this study focuses on agency, “patriarchal bargain” and negotiation of the boundaries of force and choice made by the migrant wives.

Turbulent caregiving space: a case study of Chinese marriage migrant mothers in Hong Kong

Ms. Elaine Gao
Hong Kong Baptist University;
Member of the Joint Research Group, Hong Kong

The border between Hong Kong and Mainland China is reduced from international border to national border since Handover 1997, Chinese marriage migrant women in Hong Kong undertake more political implications beyond Hukou system in Mainland. The geographic proximity and permanent residential status is supposed to facilitate migrant mother’s mobility, while their mobility decisions are also constrained by the state regulations and limited resources. Despite of gendered migration driven by global economic imperatives, the case study demonstrates how non-arranged marriage migrant women are involved into global capitalist circulation through diversified family care. Through exploring the care strategies that migrant mothers develop in response to care crisis, I will argue that the trajectories of marriage migrants in Hong Kong blurs the boundary of international/internal migration, the family care of migrant women with low socio-economic status is marginalized by articulating global capitalism and the national policies at various scales. The findings signify gendered inequality enlarged and the potential risks to migrant families, as well as provide reference to policy making and the theoretical understandings of migrant experience.

11:30 A.M. - 1:00 P.M.
Lunch Break

1:00 P.M. - 3:00 P.M.
Panel 2: Chinese human mobility in the Global South and the Global North

Prof. Franz Waldenberger
German Institute for Japanese Studies

Prof. Jongyoung Kim
Kyung Hee University

Since 2000s, the growing Chinese presence in developing countries (the Global South) has triggered a series of debates on Chinese geopolitical strategies and development impacts on host societies. At the same time, Chinese migration to developed nations (the Global North) continues to intensify, with an uprising rate of wealthy and highly-skilled Chinese moving to developed nations. Human mobility forms an essential and integral part of social systems and their transformations; its patterns are the results and causes of on-going social developments of both sending and receiving countries. What societal situation and changes do the emerging Chinese human mobility patterns reflect? How will these new phenomena in turn contribute to further social transformations in China and host countries? Emerging trends on Chinese moving to the Global North and those moving to the Global South are investigated separately. This panel aims to create dialogue and synergy among scholars working in these two fields. It is hoped that such dialogue will contribute to richer conceptualization of human mobility concerning the diverse social and professional spectrums moving within Asian regions, and between developing nations.

Who is “Chinese”? The impact of human mobility in Asia on Yokohama Chinatown

Prof. Tienshi Chen
Waseda University

This presentation aims to analyze the recent transition of Yokohama Chinatown along with the massive increase of human mobility in Asia. Yokohama Chinatown was established with the open of the port of Yokohama in 1859. In the early period, Chinese migrant and the town played an important role as the hub of Westerner and Japanese. Since Imperial Command of 352 in 1899, Chinese occupation was restricted to 3 knives which leaded many Chinese change their occupation. This is one of the reasons why so many Chinese restaurants occupied in the town today. Since 1980, Yokohama Chinatown became famous as a “theme park of Chinese food and culture” which attract many tourists as well as people to inhabit. Recently, more and more new shops established in Yokohama Chinatown. Also, member of Chinese community and students in neighboring schools became diverse. Through analyzing Chinese community in Yokohama, this research aims to figure out what kind of impacts the flow of people in Asia may cause to community and society, or even effect on individual identity and the concept of nation-state.

Going West in Order to go East: Linkage between internal and international Migration in Chinese student mobilities

Prof. Gracia Liu-Farrer
Waseda University

One of the gaps in contemporary migration research is the separation of population movements within nation-state borders and those crossing them. Migration has become almost synonymous with international migration (King and Skeldon 2010) whereas the discussion of internal migration tends to fall under the purview of development, urbanisation and social inequality. While this separation has to do with the different migration regimes governing the processes and outcomes of international and internal migrations, these two forms of migration cannot be separated empirically (Hugo 2016). Scholars have recently contested the normative distinction between ‘internal’ and ‘international’ and explored conceptual and methodological possibilities to reconnect internal and international migration (e.g. Hickey 2016, Xiang 2016). This case of Chinese student mobility provides more evidence to the linkage between international and internal migrations. By explaining the rationales and trajectories of Chinese students who have chosen to study in graduate schools in UK, this paper shows that international migration can be a strategy for internal migration, and a step in upward social mobility within the home country.

Border-crossing and belongs: Narratives and family experiences among Chinese muslim diaspora in Thailand

Prof. Liulan Wang-Kanda
Dôshisha University

Minority and immigrant peoples frequently find themselves placed in marginal positions in nation-states, and there is a tendency for attention to be given to aspects of distress and aberration in the historical process of movement across borders. In recent years, the need for a reconsideration of the one-dimensional view of immigrants by the state has arisen, and as seen in transnationalism and diaspora studies, rather than interest having grown in a “bird’s-eye” view of the state, it has instead grown in the kind of collectivity and cultural creativity that is brought about by two-way communication between the country of origin and the country of immigration, with immigrants playing a central role (Cohen 2008). Based on this trend, this paper offers a critical treatment of the state approach of institutional integration and assimilation and of the approach of the center-periphery to the movement of people across international borders. Here, the redrawing of socio-cultural boundaries (Barth ed. 1969; Erikson 2004 [1966]) between immigrants and others and the micro-negotiations of social bonds is conceptualized as “bottom-up coexistence,” (Wang 2014) and the nature of the formation of ethno-religious boundaries is examined as seen from the viewpoint of those who have experienced trans-regional migration. Special attention will be paid to the construction of the Yunnanese Chinese Muslim society’s religious network in northern Thailand and their religious events.

Becoming “socially responsible”: Chinese ethnic boundaries in developing nations

Dr. Katy N. Lam
Hong Kong Polytechnic University;
Member of the Joint Research Group, Hong Kong

Accompanying the rise of China in the global south, critics often focus on the damaging nature on Chinese economic activities on local social development, whereas certain scholars consider western-based values like corporate social responsibility (CSR) are too narrow to evaluate the development contribution of foreign actors. In contrast, based on ethnographic investigations and secondary resources on Chinese in Africa and Southeast Asia, it is observed that Chinese in these regions embrace CSR and actively construct an ethnic identity with a recognizable social responsible feature as an adaptation strategy; and the identity construction process involves exclusion and inclusion of certain Chinese in the hosting countries. Existing scholarship on Chinese overseas identity and adaption linkage, especially in developed countries, emphasizes either on assimilation (by abandoning the origin ethnicity) or on ethnic solidarity. How is it different in the context of Chinese in the south? This paper investigates the Chinese ethnic boundary negotiation observed in the developing nations. It looks into how and why the process take place and discusses the implication on Chinese adaptation and the resulting Chinese community (if it exists). It aims to contribute into the debate on the south-to-south globalization and migration dynamics beyond the state-oriented focus.

3:00 P.M. - 3:30 P.M.
Tea Break

3:30 P.M. - 5:30 P.M.
Panel 3: Cultural capital, migration and inequality

Prof. Sabine Dabringhaus
University of Freiburg

Prof. Gracia Liu-Farrer
Waseda University

Migrants’ human capital is theorized to be deeply connected to migrants’ socioeconomic trajectory in the receiving society, as well as the general character of their experience there. Most mainstream theories on immigration assume that migrants’ human or cultural capital is fixed, or pay little theoretical attention to processes of valuation of migrant human capital. However, recently, scholars drawing on Bourdieuian notions of cultural capital have drawn attention to the fact that different conversion rates of cultural capital across nations may significantly affect various factors of migrants’ experience in the receiving society. This promising theoretical approach has not yet drawn enough empirical attention and there are still many theoretical gaps to be filled. The goal of this panel is to facilitate discussion on theoretical and empirical approaches to migrants’ cultural capital and how it relates to inequality.

Raising global children in Taiwan: Transnational mobility, cultural capital and social inequality

Prof. Pei-Chia Lan
National Taiwan University

Drawing on in-depth interviews with middle-class and working-class parents in Taiwan, this paper examines how the changing practice of childrearing, and the trend of global parenting in particular, demonstrates the intersection of transnational mobility, cultural capital and social inequality in Taiwan. Following Doreen Massey, I develop the concept the power geometry of global parenting to describe how a politics of differential mobility shapes class-specific childrearing practices and reinforces social inequality.

For members of the transnational middle class, their class privilege and work-based global connections provide access to educational resources across borders and enable their children to cultivate global cultural capital. Some employ the strategy of “flexible capital accumulation,” such as giving birth in the US or acquiring a foreign passport, to help their children to attend international school or study overseas. Many more pursue educational opportunities as a practice of cultural mobility, including English-only kindergartens or summer camps, as well as schools with West-influenced alternative curriculum.

Parents on the lower spectrum of social class are not immune from the impact of global forces. Working-class men in particular are more vulnerable to job insecurity and many of them seek foreign brides from China and Southeast Asia. In the power geometry of global parenting, some forms of transnational mobility and connection generate cultural capital, while others are considered far less productive. While cross-border couples have potential to develop rich transnational connections with the global South, the state and school hardly recognize their spatial and cultural mobilities as valuable cultural resources.

Moreover, the hypermobility of upper-middle-class families in Taiwan comes at the expense of limiting the life opportunities of other families who are trapped locally. In Taiwan, the West-influenced repertoire of parenting becomes hegemonic when it is integrated into the curriculum of family education and the rules governing school admissions. Parents with insufficient economic and cultural capital suffer from a decline of parental legitimacy when they cannot live up to the middle-class norm of participating in school activities and children’s holistic education.

Global cultural capital and the birth of transnational Korean professionals in Korea and U.S.

Prof. Jongyoung Kim
Kyung Hee University

International graduate students’ occupational trajectories have rarely been studied, although many studies exist on their learning experiences in foreign universities. Based on 80 qualitative interviews, this work aims to understand how, where, and why these students obtain jobs in academe and corporations. I focus particularly on Korean professionals who received graduate degrees from US universities and who later obtained jobs in Korea or the United States. The theoretical component of this work is based on two important concepts – global cultural capital and global positional competition – both of which are seen to be based on a global hierarchy of academic degrees and professional knowledge. By looking at international students’ transnational occupational trajectories, this study aims to understand how global education, transnational job opportunities, and social inclusion and exclusion interact in diverse ways.

How commercialized ‘performance of assumed ethnicity’ affects ethnic boundaries: Ethnic majority reception of migrant South Asian waitpersons in Hong Kong’s restaurants

Dr. Matthew M. Chew
Hong Kong Baptist University

Ms. Shermaine C. Li
Hong Kong Baptist University

This study explores the implications of commercialized ‘performance of assumed ethnicity.’ It does this through analyzing qualitative data on (Han Chinese) Hong Kong customers’ reactions to South Asian waitpersons (mostly waitresses) in restaurants in Hong Kong. ‘Performance of assumed ethnicity’ refers to performative acts that aim to construct an ethnicity that one does not belong. Having non-white frontline service workers performing white ethnicity is an increasingly institutionalized form of symbolic labor in Hong Kong in industries including retailing, restaurants, and nightlife venues. This study focuses not on the performance itself but its implications for ethnic boundaries and inequality. It is found that waitpersons successfully shift ethnic boundaries and de-stigmatize themselves. The do it mainly through acting and posing as white, and secondarily through acting in a Hong Kong and middle class way. Their use of English language, formal uniforms, Americanized manners, industrious work attitude, and professional style create different types of ethnic boundary shifts and impress the majority of our respondents. However, because most type ethnic boundary shifts found resemble assimilation, their implications for ethnic inequality is complex and ambivalent.

The mechanisms sustaining the occupational mobility of White migrants in Hong Kong

Ms. Caroline M. Schöpf
Hong Kong Baptist University;
Member of the Joint Research Group, Hong Kong

Current studies on migrants’ labor market incorporation and occupational attainment find that migrants encounter a phase of downward occupational mobility upon entering the receiving society. The major causes of downward occupational mobility are found to be limited transferability of human and cultural capital, statistic discrimination against non-domestic human capital, and discrimination towards culturally or phenotypically different outgroup members. These dominant views have not been explicitly challenged.
This study challenges them through examining stable and upward moving occupational trajectories of White migrants in Hong Kong, and examining unexplored factors and mechanisms that lead to this upward occupational mobility.

5:30 P.M. - 6:30 P.M.
Concluding Session

Prof. Pei-Chia Lan
National Taiwan University

6:30 P.M. - 8:30 P.M.
Workshop Dinner