Narratives, Experiences, and Roles: Understanding Chinese Immigrants’ (Non)Belonging in Japan

Narratives, Experiences, and Roles: Understanding Chinese Immigrants' (Non)Belonging in Japan

Gracia Liu-Farrer - Associate Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 202, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 6511

It has been over three decades since the onset of contemporary migration from China to Japan. Chinese immigrants have been the largest foreign resident community in Japan since 2007. Over one third of resident Chinese are either naturalized citizens or permanent residents. However, the Chinese in Japan generally do not consider themselves “immigrants.” A sense of non-belonging is prevalent in immigrants’ discourses and practices. The Chinese immigrant media circulates an identity label – “New Overseas Chinese”. In practice, Chinese immigrants prefer permanent residency over naturalization, and many have made arrangements for continuous transnational living and eventual return. My research seeks to explore the mechanisms that affect Chinese people’s sense of belonging in Japan and their choice of partial membership in Japanese society. Using social psychological theories, I pay particular attention to three types of mutually enforcing influence: national narratives, migration experience and immigrants’ roles and practices in Japan’s economy. I describe how and why the “New Overseas Chinese” identity label and Chinese immigrants’ desires to remain partial members of Japanese society are in congruence with a transnational vision of life possibilities. I explain how such desires and visions are shaped by the social and cultural contexts of Japan as well as their relations with China. Gracia Liu-Farrer is Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, Japan. She obtained her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Her research investigates cross-border migration in Asia-Pacific countries and immigrants’ transnational practices, citizenship consciousness and sense of belonging. She is the author of the monograph Labor Migration from China to Japan: International Students, Transnational Migrants (Routledge, 2011), and many articles and book chapters on the Chinese immigrant community in Japan.

China, Japan, Transregional