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Trans-Pacific Discourse of Race: The Journal of Race Development and U.S.-Japan Fraternity, 1911-1920

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Abstract:

My paper will deal with trans-Pacific interaction of racial discourse between U.S. and Japanese scholars during the 1910s, which influenced actual foreign policy of the two countries in later years. The Journal of Race Development was issued in 1910 by Clark University. Its editor George Blakeslee was a scholar of international relations who would later become a U.S. State Department post-WWII policy planner, and influenced U.S. occupation policy for defeated Japan. In ASA 2003, I presented a paper on Blakeslee’s career and his role in U.S. postwar planning. In ASA 2006, I will focus on the contents of the Journal he edited, especially how Orientalist and imperialist discourse of U.S. and Japanese scholars – including Blakeslee – communicated with each other across the Pacific.

The Journal served as a forum for “race development theorists” – mostly American but occasionally Japanese and Chinese scholars – to discuss how to uplift “backward races” in the Asia-Pacific region. As Kevin Gaines has argued in “Black Americans’ Racial Uplift Ideology as ‘Civilizing Mission’” (1993), although the nineteenth-century scientific racism was being outdated in the 1910s, scholars newly employed a “seemingly benign, but imperial, scholarly language” of race development to maintain cultural and racial hierarchy.

In this paper, I will explore how “race” in the Asia-Pacific region was re-constructed through the trans-Pacific intellectual discourse exchanged by U.S. and Japanese scholars. Through careful reading of several articles published in The Journal of Race Development., I will examine how elite U.S. and Japanese scholars developed a fraternity as “developed races” that justified imperialistic presence of the two states in the Asia-Pacific region. Although such fraternity was temporarily disturbed by the Second World War, it re-merged in the postwar period as the Cold War uplifted Japan’s strategic importance for the U.S.

Although this paper is still work-in-progress at this time, my tentative argument is that U.S. and Japanese scholars mutually influenced each other’s construction of “race” and cultural hierarchy in the Asia-Pacific region. Japanese scholars imported American “race development theory” to justify their own imperialism and colonialism in the area. U.S. scholars constructed their knowledge through Japanese explanation of racial and cultural hierarchy. Although U.S. knowledge of Asia was deeply Orientalist even before 1911, the Journal brought about a new form of Orientalism in which Asian “races” were more meticulously ranked by their degree of “development.” Japan assumed civilization mission to uplift “backward races” as an especially “developed” Asian race. My research will demonstrate how different versions of Orientalism and imperialism feed into and support each other.
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Name: American Studies Association
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http://www.theasa.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p114133_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Tsuchiya, Yuka. "Trans-Pacific Discourse of Race: The Journal of Race Development and U.S.-Japan Fraternity, 1911-1920" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, Oct 12, 2006 <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p114133_index.html>

APA Citation:

Tsuchiya, Y. , 2006-10-12 "Trans-Pacific Discourse of Race: The Journal of Race Development and U.S.-Japan Fraternity, 1911-1920" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association <Not Available>. 2013-12-16 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p114133_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: My paper will deal with trans-Pacific interaction of racial discourse between U.S. and Japanese scholars during the 1910s, which influenced actual foreign policy of the two countries in later years. The Journal of Race Development was issued in 1910 by Clark University. Its editor George Blakeslee was a scholar of international relations who would later become a U.S. State Department post-WWII policy planner, and influenced U.S. occupation policy for defeated Japan. In ASA 2003, I presented a paper on Blakeslee’s career and his role in U.S. postwar planning. In ASA 2006, I will focus on the contents of the Journal he edited, especially how Orientalist and imperialist discourse of U.S. and Japanese scholars – including Blakeslee – communicated with each other across the Pacific.

The Journal served as a forum for “race development theorists” – mostly American but occasionally Japanese and Chinese scholars – to discuss how to uplift “backward races” in the Asia-Pacific region. As Kevin Gaines has argued in “Black Americans’ Racial Uplift Ideology as ‘Civilizing Mission’” (1993), although the nineteenth-century scientific racism was being outdated in the 1910s, scholars newly employed a “seemingly benign, but imperial, scholarly language” of race development to maintain cultural and racial hierarchy.

In this paper, I will explore how “race” in the Asia-Pacific region was re-constructed through the trans-Pacific intellectual discourse exchanged by U.S. and Japanese scholars. Through careful reading of several articles published in The Journal of Race Development., I will examine how elite U.S. and Japanese scholars developed a fraternity as “developed races” that justified imperialistic presence of the two states in the Asia-Pacific region. Although such fraternity was temporarily disturbed by the Second World War, it re-merged in the postwar period as the Cold War uplifted Japan’s strategic importance for the U.S.

Although this paper is still work-in-progress at this time, my tentative argument is that U.S. and Japanese scholars mutually influenced each other’s construction of “race” and cultural hierarchy in the Asia-Pacific region. Japanese scholars imported American “race development theory” to justify their own imperialism and colonialism in the area. U.S. scholars constructed their knowledge through Japanese explanation of racial and cultural hierarchy. Although U.S. knowledge of Asia was deeply Orientalist even before 1911, the Journal brought about a new form of Orientalism in which Asian “races” were more meticulously ranked by their degree of “development.” Japan assumed civilization mission to uplift “backward races” as an especially “developed” Asian race. My research will demonstrate how different versions of Orientalism and imperialism feed into and support each other.

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