Salmon Men? Masculine Capital and Male Vietnamese Migrants’

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Speaker An Huy Tran (Bielefeld University)

Title : Salmon Men? Masculine Capital and Male Vietnamese Migrants’

Abstract :

Transnational movements of people across borders have been one of the most prominent forces in shaping contemporary gender practices, subjectivities, and identities. While the feminization of migration in Asia within the past few decades has directed more academic attention to the relationship between transnational migration and gender, most studies have considered the gendered experiences and trajectories of female migrants. Such dimensions in the transnational migratory journeys of Asian men tend to be overlooked. This presentation addresses such an issue by inquiring into how male Vietnamese migrants make sense of their gender subjectivities and identities throughout the course of migrating to Japan and subsequently returning to Vietnam. Drawing on the life histories of seventy male Vietnamese migrants and returnees, the presentation shows how transnational migration is perceived as a rite of passage that leads to respectable manhood. It compares the migration journeys of many Vietnamese migrant men with those of the salmon to explain the different phases of these men’s mobility and gender trajectories. In particular, while the salmon migrate from the small river to the big ocean to mature up before returning to their natal place, many male Vietnamese migrants migrate to Japan in order to become more mature and capable men before returning to Vietnam. The presentation then engages with the concept of masculine capital to elucidate the ways in which migrating to Japan can be a gendered pathway during which migrant men can claim not only better masculine status but also greater social status in the home country after having accumulated sufficient resources abroad. By looking at the perceived changes in gender practices and identities during and after migration, this presentation critically contributes to the comprehensive understanding of the social meanings of transnational migration in the context of Asia. 


Huy TRAN is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Duisburg-Essen with a research project that focuses on the intersection of sexualities, masculinities, transnational migration, and social mobility among male Vietnamese migrants in contemporary Japan. Huy has also been conducting extensive research on the migration industry that channels Vietnamese migrants to Japan and has published on such a topic. Currently, Huy is working on his first monograph and a new research project on migrant-oriented brokerage services. His research interest includes transnationalism, mobility studies, return migration, migrants’ entrepreneurship, and intermediaries/brokerage.  

  • When ?

Friday 21 April 2023 from 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm

  • Where ?

ULB - Campus du Solbosch

Institut de Sociologie (building S)

Room Doucy - 12th floor - Room 123

44 avenue Jeanne - 1050 Bruxelles