P50. Asian American History

Session: Session 7, 3:45-5:15 pm, Saturday 9/30

Category: Individual Papers

Location: Humanities

Chair: Marina Tinone (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Paper Presenters: Shuma Iwai (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse), Rebecca Stover (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign), Shinya Yoshida (University of Minnesota Twin Cities)

Anti-Japanese sentiment during World War II: Galen Fisher’s Views on the Incarceration Camps

Speaker: Shuma Iwai
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Abstract: After Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, U.S. President Roosevelt issued the Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. The U.S. government felt the need of national security – to protect its nation from the enemies, Japanese Americans. Therefore, approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to move to the incarceration camps. While more than two-thirds of those were Japanese Americans who held American citizenship, the U.S. government claimed them as spies and enemies of the U.S. and treated them with injustice. These incarceration camps offered primitive accommodations and unsanitary conditions. Activities at the camps were restricted and monitored by the War Relocation Authority.   While scholars examined experiences and voices of Japanese Americans at the incarceration camps, they have paid less attention to a small group of American leaders that defended Japanese Americans and fought against anti-Japanese sentiment. This study focuses on Galen Merriam Fisher’ (1873-1955) activities against anti-Japanese sentiment and racial discrimination and injustice. He was a missionary for 21 years in Japan and wrote many articles and letters to the magazines, journals, and the government to criticize racial discrimination against Japanese Americans at the incarceration camps and to advocate for their civil rights. His significant contributions included assembling the Committee on National Security and Fair Play and shaping public opinion by making his arguments to agitate for better treatment in the camps and for the release of Japanese Americans from the camps publicly available. This presentation will detail his activities using the analysis of his writings.

Transpacific Citizenship, Race, and Migration

Speaker: Rebecca Stover
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Abstract: The intersection of race and citizenship in United States history reveals the dichotomy between the ideals of citizenship and the realities of inequality. In this book review essay, I examine the history and framework of Japanese American citizenship and national identity in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Citizenship in the history of the United States, as portrayed by the books reviewed in this essay, is a complex web of laws. As framed by concepts of racial scripts: patterns of attitudes, practices, and making of policies that linked racialized groups and citizenship and immigration law which has disenfranchised Asian Americans, groups of color, and women, amongst others. The authors examine the formation of immigration and citizenship law, racialized group formation, and how their racial scripts mediate their access to citizenship. Through situating examples of the transpacific nationality and migration of Japanese Americans in Between Two Empires: Race, History, and Transnationalism in Japanese America and Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless: A Japanese American Diaspora in the Pacific, with the development of citizenship and immigration law in Making Foreigners: Immigration and Citizenship Law in America, 1600-2000 and the theoretical framework of How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts we can better understand the history of how those inside United States borders become foreigners through unequal treatment reified through citizenship and immigration law.

Fight or Cooperate?: Between Patriot and Hanjian in Chinese America during World War II

Speaker: Shinya Yoshida
Role: Paper Presenter
Institution/Affiliation: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Abstract: This paper examines how Japan’s full scale invasion of China (1937-1945) impacted the Chinese community in America. The breakout of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 1937 set China onto the path of all-out war with Japan. Chinese rank-and-file generally resisted Japan’s aggression by following the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975)’s Chinese Nationalist Government. Prior research recounts that ethnic Chinese in America united to participate in resist Japan and save China (kangri jiuguo) movements through fundraising, propaganda program, and material aid. This portrayal thus gives us the impression that all Chinese in the U.S. supported the war against Japan. However, this view needs critical reappraisal because it does not fully consider the multifaceted influence of imperial Japan on Chinese people. As Wang Jingwei (1883-1944) exemplifies, Japan’s dominance induced the conciliatory positions among Chinese politicians and ordinary people in Japan-occupied areas. The fact suggests that the aggression-resistance dichotomy misses the complexity of Chinese people’s wartime lived experiences. Through analysis of Chinese immigrant-published newspapers in combination with Japanese language periodicals, my paper argues the Second Sino-Japanese War produced intra-community feuds in Chinese communities caught between Chiang Kai-shek-led China and Wang Jingwei’s collaborationist regime of Japan. The development of Chinese immigrant nationalism was a process by which various actors with competing visions of East Asia’s present and future claimed legitimacy. My finding helps us revisit Chinese American history colored by U.S.-Sino triumphalist narrative of World War II.