Subverting Exclusion

Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885-1928

Andrea Geiger

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November 29, 2011
304 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
18 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300169638
Cloth

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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. In the only English-language book on the subject, 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.

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 associate professor of history at Simon Fraser University.

“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

“A particular strength of the book is Geiger’s analysis of the development of legal structures motivated by exclusionist sentiment as well as their response to immigrant strategies to “subvert exclusion” and the ramifications of the legal structures developed in neighboring jurisdictions for the same purpose.”—Joel Legassie, University of Victoria

“A fine example of transnational history. . . . This book adds compelling new perspectives to the literature on Japanese immigration to North America.”—Andrea Kwon, Western Legal History

"[T]his book is altogether a welcome addition to the expanding field of Japanese migration and transnational American Studies. The book invites readers to think more critically across the national borders and class boundaries that have tended to confine the field of our study until recently."—Yukari Takai, Histoire Sociale/Social History

Winner of the 2012 Theodore Saloutos Memorial Book Award sponsored by the Immigration and Ethnic History Society.

Winner of the 2011 Association for Asian American Studies Book Award in the History category, given by the Association for Asian American Studies.
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