Dr. Helena Hof

Curriculum Vitae

Helena Hof joined the institute as Principal Investigator of the research project Foreign entrepreneurs in Tokyo's and Singapore's knowledge-intensive start-up sector, which is part of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) funded four-year collaborative project “'Skill' in the Migration Process of Foreign Workers in Asia”. Helena is a migration researcher trained in sociology and with experience of extensive ethnographic work. She is interested in the nexus of mobility studies, the sociology of work and new ways of working such as in startups and related innovation, skilled and middle class migration, ethnicity, race, and gender, as well as 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, program advisor of the Master of Modern Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and group leader of the collaborative research group for PhD students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She is also a visiting researcher at Waseda University’s Institute of Asian Migrations in Tokyo and the Asian Migration cluster of the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, as well as book reviews editor of the academic journal Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration.

Research projects



Hof, H. (2022). The EU migrant generation in Asia: Middle-class aspirations in Asian global cities. Bristol: Bristol University press. https://doi.org/10.46692/9781529225020Podcast about the book at New Books Network here.

Journal articles

Hof, H., & Alloul, J. (2023). Migratory class-making in global Asian cities: The European mobile middle negotiating ambivalent privilege in Tokyo, Singapore, and Dubai. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2023.2271669

Hof, H., Pemberton, S., & Pietka-Nykaza, E. (2021). EU migrant retention and the temporalities of migrant staying: A new conceptual framework. Comparative Migration Studies, 9(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40878-021-00225-5

Hof, H., & Tseng, Y.-F. (2020). When “global talents” struggle to become local workers: The new face of skilled migration to corporate Japan. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 29(4), 511–531. https://doi.org/10.1177/0117196820984088

Hof, H. (2021). Intersections of race and skills in European migration to Asia: Between white cultural capital and “passive whiteness”. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 44(11), 2113–2134. https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2020.1822535

Hof, H. (2020). Opting out for Getting in: Existential Mobility in European Graduates’ Migration to Asia. Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 18(3), 286–299. https://doi.org/10.1080/15562948.2020.1755761

Hof, H. (2019). The Eurostars go global: Young Europeans’ migration to Asia for distinction and alternative life paths. Mobilities, 14(6), 923–939. https://doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2019.1643164

Hof, H. (2018). ‘Worklife Pathways’ to Singapore and Japan: Gender and Racial Dynamics in Europeans’ Mobility to Asia. Social Science Japan Journal, 21(1), 45–65. https://doi.org/10.1093/ssjj/jyx035

Liu-Farrer, G., & Hof, H. (2018). Ōtebyō: The Problems of Japanese Firms and the Problematic Elite Aspirations. Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies, 34, 65–84. https://doi.org/10.57278/wiapstokyu.34.0_65

Contributions to edited volumes

Hof, H. (2022). Die mixed embeddedness ausländischer Unternehmer*innen in Tōkyōs Startup- Ökosystem. Japanstudien. Jahrbuch des Deutschen Instituts für Japanstudien, (45), 233–259.

Hof, H. (2020). Locally embedded cosmopolitans?: Young Europeans crafting their own space in Singapore and Tokyo. In Contemporary European Emigration (S. 39–57). Routledge.

Hof, H. & Liu-Farrer, G. (2019). Gender, labour, and migration in Japan. In The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture (S. 189–198). Routledge.


Hof, H. (2022). Book review of “Transnational Musicians. Precariousness, Ethnicity and Gender in the Creative Industry”. Intersections, (47). Abgerufen von http://intersections.anu.edu.au/issue47/hof_review.pdf

Hof, H. (2022). How COVID-19 changed migration (research): Constrained research practices, constrained migrant subjects. Abgerufen 18. Oktober 2023, von Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity website: https://www.mmg.mpg.de/940281/blog-hof-how-covid-19-changed-migration

Hof, H. (2022). Book review: Studying Japan: Handbook of Research Designs, Fieldwork and Methods. Social Science Japan Journal, 25(2), 353–356. https://doi.org/10.1093/ssjj/jyac009

Hof, H. (2020). Book review: Expatriate Managers: The Paradoxes of Living and Working Abroad, Anna Spiegel, Ursula Mense-Petermann and Bastian Bredenkötter (2019). Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration, 4(2), 275–277. https://doi.org/10.1386/tjtm_00027_5

Hof, H. (2017). Book review: Migration, Whiteness, and Cosmopolitanism: Europeans in Japan. Social Science Japan Journal, 20(2), 325–328. https://doi.org/10.1093/ssjj/jyx017

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