Following early field experience in Latin America, principally Mexico and Puerto Rico, Professor Nagata has diversified her interests along lines of religion, beginning with research on Old Order Amish and Mennonites in the United States, and then to issues of urban anthropology, which involved research on problems of ethnicity and immigration in cities of North America, with a growing concentration on Asian migration and settlement. Theoretical interests in ethnicity, nationalisms, religion and the politics of identity were further developed in the context of Southeast Asia, notably Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, which have featured in a continuing, longitudinal series of studies and publications over the past twenty years.
More recently, the focus of the Asian research has been on religious resurgences, the politics of conversion, the emergence of transnational religious networks and the growth, simultaneously, of both fundamentalism and of global religious movements, within Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. This research is being pursued through a series of multisited field studies, in Asia , the United Kingdom and North America .
She is also working on the impact of transnational human rights & NGO networks, and their impact on local politics of the state, towards a"global civil society".