People / Faculty


Keiko Yamanaka

Continuing Lecturer

Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies

Gender & generation, transnational migration in Asia



524 Barrows


Bio & Research Interests

I grew up in Japan, worked in Tokyo and came to the U. S. as a graduate student. I received my Ph.D. from Cornell University in social demography in 1987. In my dissertation, I pursued labor force participation of Asian American women using the 1980 US Census Data.

I started teaching in UC Berkeley as a lecturer in 1996 in the Asian American Studies of the Ethnic Studies Department. Since then, I have taught courses on Asian American family, gender and generation. In my AAS150, “Gender and Generation in Asian American Family,” students learn how Asian American families evolved throughout history in the face of many forms of exclusion and discrimination against them. Formation of families, the growth of the new generations and the development of sustainable communities are thus a testimony to the firm solidarity and strong wills of Asian immigrants who wish to take deep roots in the U. S.

To understand how the history of Asian American immigration continues today in their personal and family lives, the students in this course conduct research on their family histories based on interviews and literature surveys. Their final papers submitted in the end of the semester are diverse and fascinating accounts of the “extraordinary” life histories of “ordinary” women and men immigrated from various Asian countries. Many of these papers are compiled into a volume titled, Biographies of Asian Immigrant Women and Men in America. By Fall 2019, I have accumulated sixteen volumes of the Biographies—a major trophy of my devotion to the course. They are catalogued and made available for your view in the Ethnic Studies Library (see below photos of the recent two volumes).

In research, I study international migration in Asia, mostly among sub-regions of East, Southeast and South Asia. Due to uneven economic development among them, more developed but labor-short countries, such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan, “import” labor from the less developed and labor-redundant countries, such as China, Indonesia, Philippines and many other neighbors. Over many years of research in Japan, South Korea, Nepal and the Philippines, I have studied immigration policies and employment conditions for migrants in the Asia’s labor-receiving countries. At the same time, I also documented the slow but steady development of immigrant families and communities in these countries. In my view, the context and process in which such development occurs in Asia are very similar to those that had happened to many groups of Asian immigrants in the U. S.

Therefore, based on my research since 2006 I have developed and taught courses on citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism in Asia in the Asian Studies of the International and Area Studies, now integrated into the Department of Global Studies. In my recent course, GS150Q “Immigration and Multiculturalism in Asia,” students learn how Asia is interconnected through an exchange of labor across different sub-regions and how such seemingly economic interactions among them lead to social and political transformations in both labor-sending and labor-receiving countries. It is a dynamic, historic process unfolding right now in the rapidly developing Asia (see below the photo cover of Window Over the Water: Migration in an East Asian Context, 2015, Berghahn Books, edited by David W. Haines, Keiko Yamanaka, and Shinji Yamashita).