Dr. Helena Hof

Curriculum Vitae

Helena Hof joined the institute as a research associate for the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded four-year project “"Skill" in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia”. Helena is a migration researcher trained in qualitative sociology. She is interested in the nexus of mobility studies, the sociology of work, skilled and middle class migration, ethnicity and race, and global cities, having a strong focus on Japan and comparative research. In her doctoral and postdoctoral research in Tokyo, Japan, she focused on the entanglements of physical mobility, career mobility and social mobility in European migrants’ early-career trajectories in the global cities Tokyo, Singapore and Sao Paulo. Helena’s home institution is the University of Zurich, Switzerland, where she is a Senior Research and Teaching Fellow at the Department of Japanese Studies. She is also a visiting researcher at Waseda University’s Institute of Asian Migrations in Tokyo, held a fellowship at the Center for Metropolitan Studies at the University of Sao Paulo (USP) in Brazil and is book reviews editor of the academic journal Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration.

Research projects



Hof, Helena. 2022. The EU Migrant Generation in Asia. Middle-Class Aspirations in Asian Global Cities. Global Migration and Social Change Series, Bristol: Bristol University Press.

Journal articles

Hof, Helena, Simon Pemberton and Emilia Pietka-Nykaza. 2021. 'EU migrant retention and the temporalities of migrant staying: A new conceptual framework.' Comparative Migration Studies. 10.1186/s40878-021-00225-5

Hof, Helena and Yen-Fen Tseng. 2021. 'When “global talents” struggle to become local workers: The new face of skilled migration to corporate Japan.' Asia and Pacific Migration Journal 29: 4. DOI: 10.1177/0117196820984088

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

Contributions to edited volumes

Hof, Helena. 2020. ‘Locally embedded cosmopolitans: Young Europeans crafting their own space in Singapore and Tokyo.’ In Contemporary European Emigration, by Brigitte Suter and Lisa Åkesson (eds.). Routledge: pp. 39-57.

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: pp. 189-98.


Hof, Helena. 2022. Book review of “Transnational Musicians. Precariousness, Ethnicity and Gender in the Creative Industry” (Beata M. Kowalczyk, 2020, Routledge). Intersections, 47 (July 2022).

Hof, Helena. 2022. ‘How COVID-19 changed migration (research): Constrained research practices, constrained migrant subjects.’ Blog post of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, 3 June (https://www.mmg.mpg.de/940281/blog-hof-how-covid-19-changed-migration).

Hof, Helena. 2022. Book review of “Studying Japan: Handbook of Research Designs, Fieldwork and Methods” (eds. Nora Kottmann and Cornelia Reiher, 2020, Nomos). Social Science Japan Journal.

Hof, Helena. 2020. Book review of Expatriate Managers: The Paradoxes of Living and Working Abroad, Anna Spiegel, Ursula Mense-Petermann and Bastian Bredekötter (2019). Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration 4(2): 275-277. 

Hof, Helena. 2017. Book review of: Title: Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism: Europeans in Japan, by Milos Debnar. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, XI+235 pp., 89.99€ (ISBN 978-1-137-56526-6). Social Science Japan Journal 20(2): 235-38. 

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