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Intersections of race and skills in European migration to Asia: between white cultural capital and “passive whiteness”


Hof, Helena (2020). Intersections of race and skills in European migration to Asia: between white cultural capital and “passive whiteness”. Ethnic and Racial Studies:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Singapore used to be receptive to labour migration and Japan more restrictive. Recently, trends in both countries have reversed and a selection based on racial background has been noted by migrants. Using qualitative data of young white Europeans, this paper argues that amidst changing immigration policies, the way these migrants are received and perceived as “skilled” is not necessarily due to their acquired skills but rather to the passively accrued value of whiteness. This in turn fuels migrants’ self-identification as white and their perceptions of a market demand for white foreigners. However, their migratory trajectories underline that in a changing landscape of skill appreciation, meanings of whiteness are changing, too. The paper links migration with critical whiteness studies and argues that white privilege is sustained differently in Singapore and Japan, yet that in both cases, whiteness increasingly acts passively rather than being actionable capital and that its benefits are questionable.

Abstract

Singapore used to be receptive to labour migration and Japan more restrictive. Recently, trends in both countries have reversed and a selection based on racial background has been noted by migrants. Using qualitative data of young white Europeans, this paper argues that amidst changing immigration policies, the way these migrants are received and perceived as “skilled” is not necessarily due to their acquired skills but rather to the passively accrued value of whiteness. This in turn fuels migrants’ self-identification as white and their perceptions of a market demand for white foreigners. However, their migratory trajectories underline that in a changing landscape of skill appreciation, meanings of whiteness are changing, too. The paper links migration with critical whiteness studies and argues that white privilege is sustained differently in Singapore and Japan, yet that in both cases, whiteness increasingly acts passively rather than being actionable capital and that its benefits are questionable.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Anthropology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cultural Studies, Sociology and Political Science, Anthropology
Language:English
Date:21 September 2020
Deposited On:27 Nov 2020 07:35
Last Modified:28 Nov 2020 21:01
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0141-9870
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2020.1822535

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