Young Europeans' Mobilities in Times of Globalization: Negotiating Foreignness in Tokyo and Singapore

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal I (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Helena HOF, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Japan
This paper investigates the rising numbers of educated Europeans of middle class background who early in their professional career relocate to metropolitan Tokyo and Singapore. Japan and Singapore face population aging and workforce decline, which is why they have adopted policies to attract skilled foreign labor. However, the complex conditions that shape Europeans’ sojourns in Asia have been poorly understood so far.

The comparative study, based on qualitative fieldwork in both locations, proposes that the two different city contexts attract different people in terms of lifestyle considerations, cosmopolitan attitudes and cultural fantasies. It examines what the destination countries provide for these foreigners by focusing on both career-related issues and social relations in the host societies. Due to these migrants’ racial, class and national characteristics, special interest lies in how they negotiate their foreigner status and ‘otherness’. It will be explored to what extent they eventually integrate and feel to be part of the host society. Furthermore, the researcher examines how these young migrants cope with the situation if expectations are not met and what this means for their future in this Asian city or elsewhere. It is suggested that these young Europeans entertain the dream of being free and independent in a globalizing world. Yet they are found to be caught by the locality they live in, of which they are reminded at various occasions. Such dynamics have implications for their long-term place of residence and career progression.