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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Mr Herby Lai

MSc Sociology (LSE), MA Journalism (Chinese University of Hong Kong), BSc Psychology (Nottingham)


Lai Herby
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Mr Herby Lai
Email address:
Thesis title:
Chinese student migrants in Japan: cosmopolitanism, quality and individualism (working title).
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

My research is on what 'Japan' means for Chinese students in elite tertiary institutions in Japan, through an examination of their initial motivations for studying in Japan, changes in their perception of Japan, their everyday experiences interacting with Japanese people at university, in the part-time workplace and elsewhere.  These students occupy a particular place in the bigger picture of Chinese migration, given their potential to become part of a transnational workforce, Chinese official discourses on the roles and responsibilities of overseas students to contribute to the development of China, and the sometimes hostile political relations between China and Japan.  With elite students being an important and distinct group of Chinese migrants, and with Japan a host society that plays a significant role in the formulation of a Chinese national identity in contemporary China, it is of significance to provide a more nuanced picture of Chinese elite students in Japan, especially their cosmopolitan dispositions and abilities, and how their viewpoints on China, Japan, and their career prospects, both converge with and diverge from the relevant discourses circulated through official channels in China.

PhD Conferences

  • The cosmopolitan going home: career plans and values of Chinese students in Japan'.  International Conference: Chinese Students, Teachers and Scholars Abroad: Myths and Realities.  (Helsinki, May 2013)
  • 'Serving China with a layer of gold? Career choices and the cosmopolitanism of Chinese students in Japan'.  Migration: Global Development, New Frontiers - Interdisciplinary conference on migration (London, April 2013)
  • 'The sceptical elite: Chinese students in Japan'.  European Association of Chinese Studies Conference (Paris, September 2012)
  • 'Cosmopolitan non-nationalistic Chinese student migrants in Japan'.  British Association of Chinese Studies Conference (Oxford, September 2012)
  • 'Above and between: Chinese students in Japan'.  Durham Postgraduate Anthropology Conference (Durham, April 2012)
  • 'Worldviews and the Other: Chinese Students in Japan'.  SOAS Research Students' Society Conference (London, March 2012)


Researcher, 2012-2013 Contemporary China Research Resources Project (run by China Study Group London).