[Event] BelMix Seminar Series 2024 (I): 5

The reconfiguration of intimate spaces and the hierarchization of migrant women : The case of Japanese-French mixed unions in the Hauts-de-France region

by Yoko IWASHITA (CECILLE – ULR 4074, University of Lille)

Date: Monday 17 June 2024, 11am – 1pm (Brussels Time)
Venue: Room S.15.215 (Building S, 15th floor)

Campus Solbosch, Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Avenue Jeanne 44, Bruxelles 1050

AND also live streamed online via Zoom


Among OECD countries, family migration constituted 43 % of the permanent migration flow in 2021 (OECE, 2022). Migrants and women are the important agents for the new informal economy (Sassen, 2005). Recently, the increase of binational couples has taken a new turn with Asians moving to Europe for marriage and family formation. In this context, the migrant from a “patriarchal state” is represented as inimical to modern values like a gender equality and problematic for integration and the reproduction of “worthy citizens” (Kofman, 2018). This presentation explores the French-Japanese conjugal and familial dynamics from 1990s in France, particularly in the region of northern France and its impact on the reconfiguration of the intimate spaces and the hierarchization of Japanese spouses in terms of social risk management.

On the one hand, this marriage migration, including French-Japanese unions, raised new issues in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality and citizenship. On the other hand, the legal, political, and social status of two spouses (national/foreign, majority/minority, man/woman) is not the same (Collet, 2020). How do individuals negotiate their roles, identities and functions? What economic, political, cultural and social resources enable them to negotiate their multiple identities and to transmit Japanese language and culture in the host country? This study specifically targets Japanese women who have moved to France voluntarily in order to start conjugal and familial life or who have moved to France involuntarily by familial obligation. Through in-depth biographical interviews with Japanese migrant women in binational relationships with French men, the interviews provide rich insights into the personal migratory trajectories and experiences of these women and the construction of their social relationships. This research contributes to the understanding the feminization of North-North migration flows from the perspective of “global care chains” (Hochschild, 2000) in the post-industrial society. 


Yoko Iwashita is a PhD student in Sociology and in Japanology, specializing in conjugal and familial dynamics, conjugal mixedness, reconfiguration of intimate space, and the articulation of paid work and family life through qualitative research. She is an associate professor of Japanese language and culture within the Department of ERSO (Etudes Romanes, Slaves et Orientales) at the University of Lille. She is part of the CECILLE laboratory (Centre d’Études en Civilisations Langues et Lettres Étrangères, ULR 4074) and a member of the scientific group “Le domestique comme lieu de production du politique” (The domestic as a site of political production).  Her recent research focuses on the migratory experiences of Japanese female spouses in binational unions with French men, in terms of the construction, deconstruction and transnationalization of the social relations of Japanese woman in the Haut-de-France region.

Cite this blog post
Cai Chen (2024, May 24). [Event] BelMix Seminar Series 2024 (I): 5. BelMix. Retrieved June 14, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.58079/11pvg