Yusuf Avci

School of East Asian Studies

Research Student


I received my Bachelor’s degree in International Relations (2009) and Master’s degree in Politics (2013) from Ankara University, Turkey. Before joining the SEAS to do PhD research, I worked as a research assistant at Bartin University/Turkey from 2009 to 2014.

In my MA thesis (which you can reach from my academia.edu or researchgate.net pages) titled “Ottoman Modernization and the Image of Japan (1839-1908)”, I investigated the image of Japan in Late Ottoman society. In this study, I primarily focused on how and why Japanese modernization was discussed by Ottoman elites. Also, how and why the image of Japan was radically transformed from "savage" to "first modernized non-European society" between 1839 and 1908.

My Master’s thesis prompted me to develop a deeper understanding on Japanese society which led me to pursue a PhD at SEAS.

I joined the department in October 2015 and became an official PhD candidate in June, just before coming to Japan for fieldwork. I will continue my research at Waseda University as a visiting research fellow until October 2017.

“Do not deplore, do not laugh, do not hate, but understand!” Baruch Spinoza

Research interests

Thesis Title: “The Everyday Politics of Irregular Migrants: The Case of Irregular Turkish Migrants in Japan”

Academic Supervisor: Peter Mantanle

Initially, I intended to investigate the experiences of irregular migrants in Japan by doing an ethnographic research with Turkish migrants.

By doing so, I was aiming to shed some light on how migrant illegality experienced and constructed in Japan especially after 2004 when Japanese government declared its plan to halve the number of irregular migrants in five years.

However, I started my fieldwork in October 2016 and after four months in the field, my focus has been changed from irregular migration to asylum. Japan only recognized 27 asylum seekers as refugee among 7586 applicants in 2015.

By focusing on the experiences, lives and survival strategies of refused asylum seekers, I hope to give voice those refused asylum seekers and contribute the field.

Through ethnographic methodology and using a variety of ethnographic methods I try to understand the asylum system from through the lens of real people, process of application and refusal, their life as an applicant and/or refused asylum seeker, the social and ethnic networks that they develop for support, how they negotiate and/or deal with Japanese government.

Professional activities and memberships
  • Research Grant (2016), The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation.
  • 1964 Anniversary PhD Fieldwork Scholarship (2016-2017), Sheffield University.