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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

FAMES Room 8/9
Event date: 
Monday, 13 March, 2023 - 17:00 to 18:30

The EU Migrant Generation in Asia - Middle-Class Aspirations in Asian Global Cities

Looking at young Europeans who migrated to Singapore and Tokyo, this book sheds light on early-career migration and on the changing outlook of Japan and Singapore. We see how migration to Asian business centres has become a way of distinction and an alternative way of middle-class reproduction for young Europeans. It also reveals how perceived insecurities in the crisis-ridden EU result in these migrants’ migration or prolonged stays in Asia. This pioneering work makes the case for EU citizens’ aspired lifestyles and professional employment that is no longer only attainable in Europe or the West. Tokyo and Singapore have become their temporary homes. Having spent the crucial first life stage of ‘full’ adulthood and economic independence in Asia, the migrants have established grounds for a middle-class lifestyle that they might not be able to replicate back home. Japan’s and Singapore’s changing migration regimes, however, pose different barriers to the migrants, which results in ambiguous feelings towards their host societies.

Helena Hof is Senior Research and Teaching Fellow in Social Science of Japan at the University of Zurich and a Research Fellow at the Socio-Cultural Department of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity. Her work lies at the nexus of mobility studies, the sociology of work, skilled and middle class migration, gender, ethnicity and race, and global cities and entrepreneurship. She is currently part of a German government-funded collaborative project on the role of skills in labor migration processes in Asia, within which Helena examines foreign entrepreneurs in Tokyo’s and Singapore knowledge-intensive startup scene. Helena holds guest researcher affiliations with Waseda's Institute of Asian Migrations in Tokyo and the Asia Research Institute’s Migration Cluster at the National University of Singapore. Some of her most recent publications include ‘EU migrant retention and the temporalities of migrant staying: A new conceptual framework (with Simon Pemberton and Emilia Pietka-Nykaza, 2021, Comparative Migration Studies), and ‘Intersections of Race and Skills in European Migration to Asia: Between White Cultural Capital and ‘Passive Whiteness’’ (Ethnic and Racial Studies)