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Transpacific Anti-Imperialism: Asian Migrant Activists and the Question of Solidarity
November 20, 2019 at 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
This talk explores how the multilingual archives of transpacific anti-imperial activists help us to more fully understand the complexity of prewar Asian American and migrant history. In the 1910s and 1920s, Japanese and Koreans crossed the Pacific and entered the United States as “non-immigrants,” including students, journalists, and political exiles, when the government was imposing anti-Asian immigration restrictions. Their experiences as intellectuals, workers and racialized groups encouraged some migrants to imagine and radicalize interracial and interethnic coalitions in and beyond the United States. However, their critiques of global capitalism, American racism and Japanese imperialism revealed both a point of solidarity and the difficulty of developing broader coalitions, as these activists often held conflicting views of colonialism. Scattered Asian and Asian American primary sources illuminate the scope of their border-crossing struggles.
Hiroaki Matsusaka is a postdoctoral fellow at the Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies at UCLA. He received his Ph.D. in 2019 from the University of Michigan. Matsusaka is a scholar of modern transnational history of East Asia and the United States. In particular, he studies social movements, migration and race relations, and intellectual history across Asian America, Japan and Korea. His projects have been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the Korea Foundation and the Japan-Korea Cultural Foundation.