[Event] BelMix Seminar Series 2023-2024

Date: First Monday of each month , 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.

Also live streamed online via Zoom.

The BelMix seminar series for 2023-2024 delves into the multifaceted and dynamic realm of cross-border relationships, intimacy, gender reconfigurations, and kinship transformations. It aims to document the anthropological, historical, psychological, and sociological dimensions that shape these interconnected processes. The seminar will unite researchers from various academic institutions, each of whom will contribute unique perspectives onto the intricate landscape of intimate relationships across borders. Their empirical investigations span diverse contexts including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean region, and Europe. This seminar series will therefore offer a rich variety of approaches and insights that will collectively illuminate the general tendencies in cross-border relationships. It will provide a platform for stimulating discussions and scholarly exchanges on theoretical and methodological questions surrounding these relationships, which will create opportunities for future collaborations and collective endeavors.


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

The reconfiguration of intimate spaces and the hierarchization of the migrant women : The case of Japanese-French mixed unions in the Haut-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

Abstract:

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. 

Bio:

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.


[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

Abstract:

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.

Bio:

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

Abstract

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.

Bios

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.