Seminar Series

Transnational Migration and Ethnic Business Involution: the Case of Indian-Nepali Restaurants in Japan

Wednesday, 14 July 2021 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
Zoom Webinar
  • Gracia Liu-Farrer Professor, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University
  • Sawako Shirahase TCJS Director
Event Description

Researchers investigating immigrants’ economic practices celebrate ethnic entrepreneurship as an alternative socioeconomic mobility strategy. Immigrants seize emerging market opportunities and utilize ethnic resources to achieve economic advancement when their entry into the mainstream labor market is blocked by language barriers or discrimination. Ethnic business can be involuted, however, leading to excessive internal competition, diminishing productivity and co-ethnic exploitation. This study uses the case of Nepalese immigrants’ restaurant business in Japan to illustrate the characteristics and detriments of such involution. This study examines the transnational process that creates such an ethnic business. It explores the role of the immigration regime, the migration industry, and sociocultural characteristics of the immigrant community in shaping such an involuted ethnic business. It argues that an involuted ethnic business creates a situation of transnational precarity in which not only do immigrant workers have little means to achieve social and economic mobility in the host society but might also destabilize the socioeconomic foundation of the sending society.

About the Speaker

Gracia Liu-Farrer is Professor at the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies and Director of Institute of Asian Migration at Waseda University, Japan. Her research examines immigrants’ economic, social and political practices in Japan, and the global mobility of students and professional migrants. She has authored books Labor Migration from China to Japan: International Students, Transnational Migrants (Routledge, 2011), Handbook of Asian Migrations (co-edited with Brenda Yeoh, Routledge, 2018), and Immigrant Japan: Mobility and Belonging in an Ethno-nationalist Society (Cornell University Press, 2020). She has also published over 50 book chapters and journal articles in leading migration and area studies journals.