SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Kristin Surak

  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Publications


Kristin Surak
Department of Politics and International Studies

Research Methods Convenor

Dr Kristin Surak
Email address:
+44 (0) 20-7898-4749
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Tuesdays 3pm - 5pm
On Sabbatical:


Kristin Surak is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Japanese Politics at SOAS, University of London who specializes in international migration, nationalism, culture, and political sociology. She is a past Richard B. Fischer Member of Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Her book Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice appeared with Stanford University Press in 2013, and received the Outstanding Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Asia. She has published in numerous academic and intellectual journals, including the European Journal of Sociology, International Migration Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, New Left Review, and London Review of Books, and her work has been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, Korean, and German. For her scholarship, she has received awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Fulbright-Hays Foundation, Japan Foundation, European University Institute, Frankfurt University, University of California Board of Regents, and the Sainsbury Foundation, among others. Before joining SOAS, she taught at UCLA and at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She comments regularly for the BBC, Sky TV News, Deutsche Welle, and Al Jazeera. Currently, her research investigates temporary migrant labor programs in East Asia and across the globe, as well as the rise of citizenship by investment programs.

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Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Frances Eames Noland, Tea, Shadows, and Suicide: Emptiness as Aesthetic Identity in the works of Okakura, Tanizaki, and Mishima
  • Masato Kato, Cultural Negotiation of a Japanese New Religion in Postwar Europe (working title)
  • Paul Kaletsch, The Aftermath of Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement and Tokyo's Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy
  • Sirada Khemanitthathai, Emigration State in Transition: Myanmar and the utilisation of emigration as a foreign policy instrument

Courses previously taught:

Japan Unravelled

Going Global: An Introduction to International Migration

Comparative Political Sociology of Asia and Africa

Nationalism, Ethnicity, and the State in Asia and Africa

Introduction to Research Methods (MPhil)

Research Project Seminar (MPhil)


  • Nationalism and ethnicity
  • Japanese immigration policy
  • Labor migration in East Asia
  • Guestwork programs around the world
  • Symbolic politics of nation-formation


Authored Books

Surak, Kristin (2013) Making Tea, Making Japan: Cultural Nationalism in Practice. Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Surak, Kristin (2017) 'Rupture and Rhythm: A Phenomenology of National Experiences'. Sociological Theory, (35) 4, pp 312-333.

Surak, Kristin (2017) 'At the Margins of Multiculturalism:Assessing Kymlicka’s Liberal Multiculturalism in Japan'. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, (23) 2, pp 227-239.

Surak, Kristin (2014) 'Re-Selling Japan'. New Left Review 99, pp 139-149.

Surak, Kristin (2014) 'Gastarbeiter: Una Taxonomía'. NLR Secunda Época 84, pp 94-114.

Surak, Kristin (2014) 'お茶の専門家から文化の専門家へ―家元制度の成立」[From Tea Specialists to Culture Specialists: The Formation of the Iemoto System]'. Wochikochi.

Surak, Kristin (2014) 'Culture, Nation, and the Tea Ceremony'. Center for Comparative Japanese Studies Annual Bulletin 10, pp 133-137.

Surak, Kristin (2013) 'Guestworker Regimes: A Taxonomy'. The New Left Review 84, pp 84-102.

Surak, Kristin (2013) 'Die Gastarbeiter'. Merkur: Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken 9/10, pp 1024-1035.

Surak, Kristin (2012) 'Nation-Work: A Praxeology of Making and Maintaining Nations'. European Journal of Sociology, (53) 2, pp 171-204.

Surak, Kristin (2012) 'Die Ethniztätsindustrie'. Lettre International 97, pp 114-118.

Surak, Kristin (2011) 'From Selling Tea to Selling Japaneseness: Symbolic Power and the Nationalization of Cultural Practices'. European Journal of Sociology, (52) 2, pp 175-208.

Surak, Kristin (2010) 'The Business of Belonging'. The New Left Review 63, pp 151-159.

Surak, Kristin (2010) 'Family Reunification in Europe and East Asia'. EUI Review 4, pp 17-18.

Surak, Kristin (2010) 'El Negocio de la Pertenencia'. NLR Secunda Época 63, pp 149-158.

Surak, Kristin (2008) 'Convergence in Foreigners' Rights and Citizenship Policy? A Look at Japan'. International Migration Review, (42) 3, pp 550-575.

Surak, Kristin (2007) '"Ethnic Practices" in Translation: Tea in Japan and the US'. Ethnic and Racial Studies, (29) 5, pp 828-855.

Book Chapters

Surak, Kristin (2017) 'Engaging Objects: A Phenomenology of the Tea Ceremony and Japaneseness'. In: Zubrzycki, Geneviève, (ed.), National Matters: Materiality, Culture, and Nationalism. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Surak, Kristin (2017) 'Tea Flows: A Praxeological Perspective on Rituals'. (Extra-)Ordinary Presence: Social Configurations and Cultural Repertoire. Bielefeld: Transkript-Verlag, pp 181-194.

Surak, Kristin (2017) 'The Tea Ceremony Beyond Japan: Postcolonial Cultural Transmission'. Japan im Westen: Literatur – Kultur – Spiritualität. Tübingen: Stauffenburg-Verlag. [Forthcoming]

Surak, Kristin (2015) 'Guestworker Regimes Globally: An Historical Comparison'. Handbook of the Political Economy of Migration. Surrey: Edward Elgar.

Surak, Kristin (2012) 'Migration Industries and Developmental States in East Asia'. In: Gammeltoft-Hansen, Thomas and Nyberg Sorensen, Ninna, (eds.), The Migration Industry and the Commercialization of International Migration. London: Routledge, pp 89-110.

Surak, Kristin (2011) 'Making Tea Japanese'. In: Cox, Rupert and Brumann, Christoph, (eds.), Making Japanese Heritage. London: Routledge, pp 21-30.

Book Reviews

Surak, Kristin (2011) 'Review of "Japanese Women, Class, and the Tea Ceremony: The Voices of Tea Practitioners in Northern Japan"'. Pacific Affairs, (84) 3, pp 580-581.

Surak, Kristin (2010) 'Review of "Diaspora Without Homeland: Being Korean in Japan"'. Pacific Affairs, (83) 4, pp 797-798.


This list was last generated on Wednesday, 22nd August 2018, 06:23 Europe/London.