Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America
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By Eiichiro Azuma.
Before WWII, Japanese immigrants, or Issei, forged a unique transnational identity between their native land and the United States. Whether merchants, community leaders, or rural farmers, Japanese immigrants shared a collective racial identity as aliens ineligible for American citizenship, even as they worked to form communities in the American West.
At the same time, Imperial Japan considered Issei and their descendants part of its racial expansion abroad and enlisted them to further its nationalist goals. Azuma shows how Japanese immigrants negotiated their racial and class positions vis a vis white Americans, as well as Chinese and Filipinos, even though Japan was trying to conquer their countries of origin. Using rare sources in Japanese and English, Azuma stresses the tight grip of the Japanese and American states, as well as the clashing influences they exercised over Japanese immigrants, and how these immigrants and their descendants created identities that diverged from both national narratives.
Paper: 306 pp.
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