Keiko Yamanaka Ph.D




Ph.D., Sociology,Cornell University, Major: Population Studies. Dissertation: Labor Force Participationof Asian American Women: Ethnicity, Work and The Family.


MS, Sociology, Iowa State University, Thesis: Modernity and Fertility Preferences in Taiwan.


BA, English Literature, Shizuoka Women's University, Japan.




Continuing Lecturer, Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, Department of Ethnic Studies.

Courses taught:
AAS150, “Gender and Generation in Asian American Families”
AAS151, “Asian American Women: Theory and Experience”
AAS190/AS150, “Transnational Migration and Multiculturalism in the Asia-Pacific”


Lecturer, Group in Asian Studies, Department of International & Area Studies.

Courses taught:
AS150, “Immigration and Citizenship in Asia”
AS150, “Asian Diasporas: History, Citizenship and Identity”
AS10, “Introduction to Asian Studies”
AS150, “Migration and Multiculturalism in Asia”




Instructor, Akita International University and UC Berkeley Project-Based Learning course, Berkeley and Akita City, Japan.


Lecturer, International Women’s University (Ifu) “Technology and Culture,” Project Area “Migration,” Hannover, Germany.


The American Anthropological Association’s 1997 Committee on Refugees and Immigrants Award for Best Paper: “Return Migration of Japanese Brazilian Women: Household Strategies and Search for the ‘Homeland.’ ” Published in: Beyond Boundaries: Selected Papers on Refugees and Immigrants, Volume 5: 11-34, Diane Baxter and Ruth Krulfeld (eds.), Arlington, VA: the American Anthropological Association.


Abe Fellowship, Center for Global Partnership and Social Science Research Council. Project: “Immigrant Resettlement and Local Communities: Japan and the United States.” Research in Hamamatsu and Toyohashi, Japan and São Paulo, Londrina and Porto Alegre, Brazil.


Advanced Research Fellow, Program on U.S.-Japan Relations, Harvard University.


Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.


Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.


Planner/Administrative Assistant, Japan Airlines, Tokyo, Japan.



See “Publications



Transnational migration in Asia-Pacific, immigration policy, citizenship, civil society, immigrant community, gender, life history, Japanese society.



Transnational Community and Immigrant Incorporation in Japan.




Coordinator and Moderator of the Bay Area Social Science Seminar.


Member of the Board of Advisers and Directors, the Japanese-American National Library, San Francisco.



Asian American Studies

In the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies (AAADS), I taught AAS151 “Asian American Women: Theory and Experience” from 1996 to 2011. Since 2012, I have been teaching AAS150 “Gender and Generation in Asian American Family.” In these courses, I emphasize the importance of the link between the large societal process and the personal life experience using the concept of “sociological imagination” developed by C. W. Mills. Students learn Asian American history, gender, family and community formation, and ideological racism portraying Asians as a model minority. Throughout the semester, they write a life history paper by interviewing an immigrant from Asia and placing the informant in the large historical and social context that shaped his or her life experience. Results from this exercise are extraordinary life stories of ordinary people who seek the American Dream and yet struggle to build a comfortable home in American society. These stories by students are complied into an annual volume of life history papers and are available in the Ethnic Studies Library (see the list of Life History Volumes).

Asian Studies

Since 2006, in Asian Studies I taught AS10 “Introduction to Asian Studies” and AS150 Special Topic courses in Asian Studies. In the introductory courses, I organized themes and guest lecturers into a coherent framework through which students broadened their knowledge about Asia’s diversity and complexity. In Special Topic courses, I taught courses titled “Immigration and Multiculturalism in Asia,” “Immigration and Citizenship in Asia,” and “Asian Diaspora: History, Citizenship and Identity.” Much of these courses are drawn from my own research in East Asia regarding transnational migration, immigrant communities and civil activism for migrant rights. In these courses, I emphasized critical thinking according to theory, observation based on research, and expressing them in discussion and writing. For these goals, I adopted a case study approach in my Special Topic courses. Students learned specific issues from a case study deepening their understanding while improving their skills of reading, writing and presenting.

AIU-UCB PBL Summer Course

In the last two summers (2014, 2015), in collaboration with Akita International University (AIU), I taught a four-week course on transnational community and immigrant incorporation in Japan and the U.S. The class, consisted of ten highly selected students (five from Berkeley and another five from AIU), carried out fieldwork in the Bay Area and Japan where they visited many immigrant communities (Chinese, Japanese and Latino in the Bay Area; Korean, Peruvian, Brazilian and Filipino in Japan), collected data through interviews, and completed their research papers, which have been published by AIU in March 2016. The course was so successful that it will be offered again in the summer of 2016.



My research is mostly about international migration issues. At Cornell for my Ph.D. dissertation, I analysed labor force participation of Asian immigrant women using the 1980 US Census data. After this, I turned my attention to the emerging global migration into Japan in the early 1990s, and then to migration experience of other East Asian countries. For more than twenty years since then, I have studied (1) different immigrant communities in Japan—their histories, employment and immigration policies that shaped their lives, and (2) Japanese citizen groups that helped the immigrants improve their rights as residents and workers. These studies ranged from communities of Japanese Brazilians, Nepalese, and more recently Filipinas. In the mid-2000s, I extended my interests to other regions and countries, focusing on feminization of labor migration in East and Southeast Asia, and comparing immigration policies and civil activism in Japan and South Korea. From these studies, I found that immigration is changing the East Asian societies in many profound ways but that they pay little attention to immigration despite its critical importance to their rapidly declining population in the near future.

Japanese Brazilian

In the early 1990s the large number of Nikkeijin (people of Japanese descent) from Latin America, mostly from Brazil and Peru, arrived in Japan to work as temporary hires in the labor-short manufacturing industry. I did my studies in Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, where their number reached its peak 20,000 in 2007, but abruptly declined after the economic recession unemployed many of them. In my studies, I focused on community formation with their families, businesses and schools for children. Local citizens’ groups helped them in the areas of health, housing, language and employment. However, I found that social interactions between Brazilians and Japanese are very limited, raising questions about immigrant incorporation into Japanese society. (See Publications)


At about the same time I began research on Japanese Brazilians, I was able to reach out to a small community of Nepalese migrant workers in the Hamamatsu area. They were mostly working age men of different ethnic groups from Nepal. Like Brazilians, they worked in small-scale manufacturing factories but were less protected than Brazilians due to a lack of proper visas. On Sundays, these men engaged in all kinds of community activities holding meetings, rituals, music, sports, etc. Their Japanese friends and supporters often attended in these activities. The 2008 recession also hit hard this community eliminating it at once. Most migrants returned to Nepal. (See Publications)


My participation in the AIU-UCB PBL Summer Course (see Profile>Teaching) led me to develop a close contact with a small community of Filipino women married to Japanese men in rural Akita. For the past twenty years they have raised their families while collaborating with locals for cultural exchange. Unlike Japanese Brazilian and Nepalese workers, these women are permanent residents therefore relatively well integrated into Japanese society. I am interested in their stories as they undergo different phases of cultural adaptation and family life cycles in Japan. (See Publications)

Feminization of Labor Migration

International labor migration has been heavily feminized in Asia. The Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka send large numbers of women abroad as domestics in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East. This prompted local civil society to advocate for their rights. In the early 2000s feminist scholars of the Asia-Pacific region, including me, became interested in how policy, civil society and immigration interact with one another generating the new dynamics of political movements. I contributed to this scholarship by theorizing relationships between governmental tolerance for civil society and NGO activism for immigrant rights in East and Southeast Asia. In my own study I focused on women’s activities for education of immigrant children in Japan. (See Publications)

Immigration Policy

East Asian countries adopt highly restrictive policies against foreign workers although their labor is much needed in the low skill jobs. The anti-immigration policy continues in the face of extremely low fertility that has caused the rapid ageing of the population and labor force. In my work I have asked why these East Asian countries, especially Japan, continue a guest worker program that rotates short-term workers despite the fact that they need more workers and immigrants in order to revitalize its economy and population. (See Publications)

Japan and Korea

Immigration policies of Japan and Korea were similar until the mid-2000s. But they began to diverge in 2006 when Korea implemented the Employment Permit System by which foreign workers worked on contract with their rights equal to locals’. Japan still continues the industrial trainee system by which unskilled foreigners work as trainees but not as workers. I found that Korean NGOs confronted the government and industry for a more transparent system, whereas Japanese NGOs remain ineffective in challenging the government and big businesses. (See Publications)

Asian Americans

My research used to the 1980 US Census data to study Asian American women in the labor force. I also studied patterns of intermarriage among Asian American populations based on the 1980 census data. (See Publications)