The Japanese immigrants who arrived in the North American West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries included people with historical ties to Japan’s outcaste communities. Andrea Geiger examines the history of these and other Japanese immigrants in the United States and Canada and their encounters with two separate cultures of exclusion, one based in caste and the other in race.
Andrea Geiger’s book Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885-1928 will be available at the event.
Geiger reveals that the experiences of Japanese immigrants in North America were shaped in part by attitudes rooted in Japan’s formal status system, mibunsei, decades after it was formally abolished. In the North American West, however, the immigrants’ understanding of social status as caste-based collided with American and Canadian perceptions of status as primarily race-based. Geiger shows how the lingering influence of Japan’s strict status system affected immigrants’ perceptions and understandings of race in North America and informed their strategic responses to two increasingly complex systems of race-based exclusionary law and policy.
Andrea Geiger is assistant professor of history at Simon Fraser University.
REVIEWS of Andrea Geiger’s book Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885-1928
“Examining the tangled convergence between North American racial prejudice and the Japanese denigration of outcastes, this book is strikingly innovative and intensely thought-provoking. Andrea Geiger’s work sets a model of historical research and analysis practiced as an extraordinary—and courageous—art.”—Patty Limerick, author of The Legacy of Conquest
“This is a deeply researched, well written and also deeply felt book that will become an important text on Asian American history in North America. The author has a sensitive, knowing stance toward her material that is much superior to a lot of the literature in Asian American history.”—Bruce Cumings, University of Chicago
“Refusing historiographical silences and caricatures of homogeneity and stasis, Subverting Exclusion insists upon the diversity and movement of Japanese migrants in a trans-Pacific, transnational world. In the process, this superbly conceived study succeeds in rendering its subjects as emphatically human.”— Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones
“Elegantly written and deeply insightful, Geiger deftly combines an understanding of the law and racial formation and has offered a truly transnational history that blends Asian, Asian American, and broader issues of American immigration history.”—K. Scott Wong, Williams College
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