Jamie Coates

Dr Jamie Coates

Lecturer in East Asian Studies

PhD (Australian National University)

Contact details
Email: j.coates@sheffield.ac.uk
Tel: 0114 222 8436
Room: B01

Twitter - @coates_jamie


I am an anthropologist who joined Sheffield permanently in 2018 after having previously worked at Sheffield, Waseda University, Osaka University and Sophia University. I completed my PhD in anthropology at the Australian National University, where my dissertation focused on an emergent Chinatown in central Tokyo.

I have lived in Beijing, Taipei, Tokyo, and Kyoto, spending most of my twenties and early thirties in East Asia. I was a China Scholarship Council student at Beijing Language and Culture University, an English teacher in Taiwan, a Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) research scholar at Sophia University, and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) postdoctoral fellow at Waseda University. I also previously worked as a research assistant in psychiatric epidemiology in Australia.

In the School of East Asian Studies, I take care of the Chinese Studies undergraduate programme as degree tutor, as well as teaching across both the undergraduate and graduate programmes.


I specialise in the cultural anthropology of China and Japan, but enjoy collaborations across fields as diverse as literary, film and media studies, geography, history, psychology, sociology and international relations. I combine visual and digital ethnography with historical and textual analysis to explore the relationship between technology, mobility and imagination in urban Northeast Asia.

Broadly speaking, I am interested in how different ways of living, and different modes of thinking, foster or inhibit humanity’s capacity to cooperate. In short, I am fascinated by how people manage to get along. Rather than focusing on the formal and intergovernmental level of this line of questioning, I concentrate on the informal, local and interpersonal scales of this problem. East Asia serves as an inspiring site for thinking about these questions because of the fraught histories it shares and the increasingly entangled nature of contemporary flows of people, products and popular culture in the region.

Building on my doctoral research on Chinese migration to Japan, I am currently investigating how media and migration re-scale local imaginaries in the Sino-Japanese context. Focusing on forms of play, consumption, and media use among Chinese people living in Japan I ask how quotidian phenomena such as transport, food, tourism, games, gender and sex are changing the way interpersonal Chinese relations and Sino-Japanese relations are imagined in the current era. Through this interest, I am increasingly engaging with wider question of how digital technologies are changing relationships and personhood in East Asia, as well as how digital East Asia challenges current debates in the social sciences and humanities.

Research Supervision

I enjoy research supervision and welcome enquiries from students interested in any area relevant to my expertise. I have previously supervised master’s dissertations related to Chinese popular culture, migration and social theory, as well as undergraduate dissertations on topics related to gender, popular culture, minorities, and bodily practices in China and Japan.


I am currently teaching the following modules:

EAS 6208 Media, Culture and Society in East Asia.
EAS 6207 Poltics and Governance in China

I also teach the Chinese-English translation classes as part of the Chinese studies programme

Teaching Philosophy

In Chinese there is a saying wei ren shi biao, which states that in order to be worthy of the name ‘teacher’ you must stand as an exemplar of that which you teach. To teach by your actions and serve as an example for others. I strive to embody the enthusiasm, curiosity, and empathy that I believe underpins cross-cultural inquiry. I enjoy sharing my own research, and that of my colleagues, with students and see it as important to invite students to see themselves as collaborators in the major scholarly and popular debates of our time. I also encourage students to see themselves as researchers from the start of their training, inviting them to challenge themselves through research-led teaching. At the same time, I emphasise that the skills and approaches of area focused human sciences can be applied to all walks of life. My teaching strives to facilitate forms of critical practice that ensure the next generation have the skills to address pressing cultural issues wherever they may find themselves in the future.



‘Playing Chinatown: Communicating Chineseness in Ikebukuro, Tokyo (in progress)

Refereed Journal Articles

Coates, J (2019) ‘The Cruel Optimism of Mobility: aspiration, belonging and the "good life" among transnational Chinese migrants in Tokyo’. positions 27(3)

Mostafanezhad M, Coates J, and Coates, J (2018) ‘Journeys from the East: The Geopolitics of Film Motivated Chinese Tourism,’ with Mary Mostafanezhad The International Journal of Tourism Anthropology 6(3)

Coates, J (2018) ‘Tokyo Pengyou’, Journal of Anthropological Films 2 see http://boap.uib.no/index.php/jaf/article/view/1538/1319

Coates, J (2018) ‘Ikebukuro In-Between: Mobility and the formation of the Yamanote’s heterotopic borderland’ Japan Forum. 30(2)

Pendleton, M and Coates, J (2018) ‘Thinking from the Yamanote: space, place and mobility in Tokyo’s past and present Japan Forum. With Mark Pendleton 30(2)

Coates, J (2017) ‘So Hot Right Now: reflections on virality and sociality from transnational digital China’ Digital Culture and Society 3(2)

Coates, J (2017) ‘Blue Sky Thinking: the effects of Aoi Sola in a Sino-Japanese context’ Celebrity Studies 8(2).

Coates, J (2017) ‘Key Figure of Mobility: the Flâneur’, Social Anthropology.25(1)

Coates, J (2015) ‘Unseeing Chinese Students in Japan: understanding educationally-channelled migrant experiences from a sensory perspective’, Journal of Current Chinese Affairs. 44(3)

Coates, J (2014) ‘Rogue Diva Flows: Aoi Sola’s reception in Chinese media’, Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema. 6(1)

Coates, J (2013) ‘Everyday mobility: the normalization of China-Japan migratory flows and their disjunctures’, International Review of Social Research (IRSR). 7(1)

Book Chapters

Coates, J. (2018) ‘Persona, Politics and Chinese Masculinity in Japan: the case of Li Xiaomu’ in Hird, D., Geng, S. (eds) The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age. November: Hong Kong University Press (October)

Coates, J. (2018) ‘The cultural and economic logics of migration’ in Liu-Farrer, G. and Yeoh, B. (eds) Routledge Handbook of Asian Migrations. London: Routledge

Coates, J (2017) ‘Idleness as Method: hairdressers, Chinese migration and mobility in Tokyo’ in Elliott, A. Norum, R, Salazar, N. (eds) Methodologies of Mobility: Ethnography and Experiment, Oxford: Berghahn

Journal Issues

‘Thinking from the Yamanote: space, place and mobility in Tokyo’s past and present’ special issue for Japan Forum May. co-editor with Mark Pendleton

‘Key Figures of Mobility’ special issue for Social Anthropology February. co-editor with Noel Salazar

Scholarly Reviews

Coates, J (2017) ‘Edgy Politics and European Anthropology in 2016’. Social Anthropology. May

Coates, J (2016) David W. Haines, Keiko Yamanaka and Shinji Yamashita (eds.) Wind Over Water: Migration in an East Asian Context.” International Migration Review, 49:1

Coates J (2014) “Anne Alison, Precarious Japan,” Social Anthropology, 22:3

Coates J (2014) “Hans Steinmuller, Communities of Complicity,” Anthropos 109

Coates J (2012) “Vanessa Fong, Paradise Redefined: transnational Chinese students and the quest for flexible citizenship in the developed world,” The China Journal, 67

Coates J (2011) “Julie Chu, Cosmologies of Credit: transnational mobility and the politics of destination in China’ The China Journal, 66

Coates J (2009) “Amy Hanser, Service Encounters: class, gender and the market for social distinction in urban China” Intersections, 20

Public Commentaries and News

Coates, J (2017) Deterritorializing Chinatown in Digital Tokyo. Anthropology News

Bofulin, M. Coates J (2017) “Bakugai! Explosive Shopping and Entangled Sino-Japanese Mobilities” Anthropology News

Coates, J (2016) “Not multicultural, but a more diverse Japan?” East Asia Forum December 3 

Coates, J (2016) “In and Out of Japan” Anthropology News

Film Productions

2018 “Tokyo Pengyou”, Director (peer-reviewed ethnographic film) Journal of Anthropological Films 2 May

2017 Tanka Sound, Pali Sound, Cinematographer/Editor, (art process) co-produced with Noriko Tanaka and Savanhdary Vongpoothorn

2017 When Cinema Was King, Cinematographer, (documentary), co-produced with Jennifer Coates