Dr. Helena Hof

Visiting Researcher

Helena Hof (Ph.D.) is a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies, University of Zurich. Helena earned her PhD from Waseda University, where she also worked as a Research Associate at the Center of Asia-Pacific Studies and continues to be an associate member of the Institute of Asian Migrations. Helena is a migration scholar with focus on skilled labor migration in Japan as well as comparative projects on Singapore (previous stays at NTU and NUS), Sao Paulo (visiting fellow at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, USP) and European contexts (visit to the University of Hamburg). As an early career researcher, she was awarded a four-year JSPS grant on skilled labor mobility in global cities. At the University of Zurich, Helena is working on a book manuscript while serving as a lecturer and developing new collaborative projects, which draw on her expertise in migration and mobility studies, urban sociology, sociology of work, gender and youth. Helena is also serving the international research community in her role as Reviews Editor of the academic journal Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration. Her most recent publications include 'Intersections of Race and Skills in European Migration to Asia: Between White Cultural Capital and ‘Passive Whiteness’ (Ethnic and Racial Studies), ‘The Eurostars Go Global: Young Europeans’ Migration to Asia for Distinction and Alternative Life Paths' (Mobilities), and ‘Opting Out for Getting In: Existential Mobility in European Graduates’ Migration to Asia’ (Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies).

Research Project

JSPS Early-Career Scientists award for "Tokyo's attractiveness for global talent: a comparative study of Tokyo, Singapore, and Sao Paulo," 2019-2022, Principal Investigator. This qualitative project examines Japan’s low attractivity for skilled foreign labor in a comparative perspective. As global nodes in the world economy, the three metropoles Tokyo, Singapore, and Sao Paulo, regional headquarters for their respective regions, potentially appeal to so-called ‘global talents’, yet Sao Paulo similar to Tokyo struggles to attract and more so to retain such talent. The theoretical framework of the ‘alternative global city’ offers an original angle to study the challenges and opportunities of incorporating ethnically diverse foreigners into the domestic labor markets and increasingly multicultural city populations and aims to provide Japanese policy makers and firms with recommendations how to retain global talent more successfully.


  • Hof, Helena. 2020. 'Intersections of Race and Skills in European Migration to Asia: Between White Cultural Capital and ‘Passive Whiteness’. Ethnic and Racial Studies. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2020.1822535.

  • Hof, Helena. 2020. 'Opting Out for Getting In: Existential Mobility in  European Graduates’ Migration to Asia.' Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies. DOI: 10.1080/15562948.2020.1755761.

  • Hof, Helena. 2020. ‘Locally Embedded Cosmopolitans? European Millennials’ Boundary Work in Singapore and Tokyo’ In Contemporary European Emigration, Brigitte Suter and Lisa Åkesson (eds). Routledge: p. 39-57. 

  • Hof, Helena. 2019. 'Mobility as a Way of Life: European Millennials’ Labour Migration to Asian Global Cities.' PhD Dissertation, Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University. 

  • Hof, Helena. 2019. ‘The Eurostars Go Global: Young Europeans’ Migration to Asia for Distinction and Alternative Life Paths.’ Mobilities. DOI: 10.1080/17450101.2019.1643164.

  • Hof, Helena and Gracia Liu-Farrer. 2019. ‘Gender, Labour and Migration in Japan.’ In The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture by Mark Pendleton, Jennifer Coates and Lucy Fraser (eds.). Routledge: p. 189-98.

  • Hof, Helena. 2018. ‘‘Worklife Pathways’ to Singapore and Japan: Gender and Racial dynamics in Europeans` Mobility to Asia’, Social Science Japan Journal, Special Issue Winter 2018, 21 (1): 45-65.

  • Liu-Farrer, Gracia und Helena Hof. 2018. ‘Ōtebyō: the Problems of Japanese Firms and the Problematic Elite Aspirations.’ Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies (Waseda), 34: 65-84.

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