All posts by Bella Wu

[Event] BelMix Seminar Series 2024 (I): 4

Exploring Belgian-Laotian Couples

Navigating Transnational Stereotypes: Insights into the Emotional Dynamics of Belgian-Laotian Couples

by Mimy Keomanichanh (Université libre de Bruxelles/LAMC)

Date: Monday 13 May 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


This presentation delves into the emotional experiences of Belgian-Laotian couples residing in both Belgium and Laos, exploring the impact of “transnational stereotypes” on their dynamics. Drawing from semi-structured in-depth interviews, the study contextualizes these stereotypes and examines their influence on the emotional states of the couples. Furthermore, it investigates how the social class of each partner, linked to their respective country of residence, shapes these emotional experiences. Through a nuanced analysis, this research sheds light on the complex interplay between transnational identities, stereotypes, and emotional well-being within multicultural relationships.


Mimy Keomanichanh is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the Laboratory of Anthropology of Contemporary Worlds (LAMC) at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium. Her doctoral research focuses on conjugal mixedness through the lens of emotion among Belgian-Laotian couples living in Belgium and Laos.

[Event] BelMix Seminar Series 2024 (I): 3

French-Japanese Marriages: A Patriarchal Revival?

When the Term “Husband” Rhymes with “Master”: Gendered Language Practices of Japanese Migrants in France

by Dr. Miyako Hayakawa (Université libre de Bruxelles/LAMC)

Exploring the Role of Marital Support in the Career and Family Aspirations of Japanese Migrant Women in Mixed Couplehood 

by Kanako Takeda (EHESS, Centre Georg Simm)

Date: Monday 15 April 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


When the Term “Husband” Rhymes with “Master”: Gendered Language Practices of Japanese Migrants in France

This research examines how “patriarchal constraints” shapes everyday life of Japanese migrants/expatriates settled in France. Although Japanese migration can be characterized as a privileged international mobility of “North-North” or “North-South”, a settlement from one developed country to another industrialized or developing country, their mobility has very specific characteristics in terms of gender. The Japanese society, a “bad student” on gender equality, still preserves strongly patriarchal norms and practices. Along with the increased mobility of Japanese nationals around the world in recent decades, this gendered power relation is “exported” to the country of arrival, still maintaining a strong gender asymmetry within the families of Japanese migrants.

In this presentation, I will focus on the gendered language used by Japanese migrants in France. Despite their integration in France and their behaviors described as “cosmopolitan” and “Western,” their use of certain gendered terms remains almost identical to what is found in their country of origin, especially concerning marital relationships. However, the objective of this presentation is not to deny their agency and to assert that their language behavior has not undergone any transformation in migration. On the contrary, I will argue that some language practices have been replaced by others that are more “Western,” while others have remained unchanged: we observe the adoption of first names as terms of address at the expense of surnames, which is an unusual custom in Japanese society, and the continuity of gendered appellations to refer to spouses.

Exploring the Role of Marital Support in the Career and Family Aspirations of Japanese Migrant Women in Mixed Couplehood 

This presentation explores the intricate dynamics of marital support and its impact on the career aspirations of Japanese female immigrants in mixed unions in France. Amidst the evolving landscape of immigration in France, where individuals increasingly embark on self-initiated journeys for work, study, or love, and also form an increasing number of mixed unions, the role of conjugal relations in shaping career trajectories receives scant attention. This study specifically targets Japanese women who have moved to France, not out of necessity or as highly-skilled migrants, but as part of the burgeoning middle class seeking to forge conjugal and familial ties in a foreign land. Through in-depth biographical interviews with 63 Japanese women in mixed relationships with French men, this research delves into how these conjugal relations influence their career aspirations within the context of self-initiated immigration.

The interviews provide rich insights into the personal experiences of these women, highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities related to their migratory situation in navigating their social integration and career paths in France. The findings reveal that French partners play a significant role as references and models in making choices related to career and social integration in France. This research contributes to the understanding of the specific situations faced by self-initiated female immigrants, who often receive little public attention and bear the responsibility of their social integration. By shedding light on the influence of marital support on career aspirations, this study adds a valuable dimension to the discourse on immigrant women’s integration and empowerment in their host countries.


Miyako Hayakawa is a social anthropologist, Postdoctoral research fellow for the project AspirE, at the ULB. She received her PhD from EHESS (Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales) in France. Her research focuses on, Japanese migration, lifestyle migration, international divorce, and privileged international mobility.

She is a former JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science) fellow for her research on political science, at Sophia University and the University of Tokyo. In 2015, she received the Louis Dumont Prize for her research in social anthropology. She is the author of “Migrating to an ideal country? Democratisation of Japanese Migration to France” (Ebisu, Etudes japonaises, 2023). She is a member of MAF (Migrations asiatiques en France), Asian migration research network, and one of the main researchers of the REACTAsie project of MAF, an action-research on racism and discrimination against Asian immigrants in France.

Kanako Takeda is a PhD student in Sociology, specializing in female immigration, conjugal mixedness, and the articulation of work and family life through qualitative research. She earned her Master’s degree from ENS de Lyon and has begun her PhD with a doctoral contract at EHESS, Paris. She is also affiliated with the Institute of Oriental Asia (IAO, Lyon) and the Asiatic Migrations in France (MAF) research network. Her current research focuses on the nuanced experiences of Japanese female immigrants in a mixed union with French men as they navigate their work-family aspirations, exploring the intersections of culture, work, and family life in France.

[Publication] Journal article: Un chercheur chinois sur le terrain en RD Congo

Chen, C. (2023). Un chercheur chinois sur le terrain en RD Congo : parcours, identités et relations d’enquête. Suds : Géographies critiques, perspectives des Suds, 288, 199–209.

Le 14 décembre 2022, j’ai pris un vol de Bruxelles à Kinshasa afin de réaliser une enquête de terrain exploratoire. La conversation précédente a eu lieu entre deux Congolaises lorsque j’étais dans la file d’attente pour accomplir les formalités parmi un bon nombre d’Africains subsahariens et quelques Européens blancs isolés. Elle s’est déroulée en français, la langue que je maîtrisais, contrairement à d’autres langues africaines dont je peinais à saisir le mot « Chinois ». J’ai fait semblant de ne rien comprendre, mais je ne pouvais m’empêcher de me demander quel était le sens de cette discussion.

Je doutais qu’il soit inhabituel pour elles de voir un Chinois (voyager) au Congo, car David Van Reybrouck a ironiquement affirmé qu’« [à] Kinshasa grandit une génération pour laquelle les Européens sont plus exotiques que l…