From the 1920s to the eve of the Pacific War in 1941, more than 50,000 young second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) embarked on transpacific journeys to the Japanese Empire, putting an ocean between themselves and pervasive anti-Asian racism in the American West. Born U.S. citizens but treated as unwelcome aliens, this contingent of Japanese Americans—one in four U.S.-born Nisei—came in search of better lives but instead encountered a world shaped by increasingly volatile relations between the U.S. and Japan.
Based on transnational and bilingual research in the United States and Japan, Michael R. Jin recuperates the stories of this unique group of American emigrants at the crossroads of U.S. and Japanese empire. From the Jim Crow American West to the Japanese colonial frontiers in Asia, and from internment camps in America to Hiroshima on the eve of the atomic bombing, these individuals redefined ideas about home, identity, citizenship, and belonging as they encountered multiple social realities on both sides of the Pacific. Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless examines the deeply intertwined histories of Asian exclusion in the United States, Japanese colonialism in Asia, and volatile geopolitical changes in the Pacific world that converged in the lives of Japanese American migrants.
About the author
Michael R. Jin is Assistant Professor of History and Global Asian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"For far too long, Nisei with life experiences in Japan have been written out of Japanese American history. Michael R. Jin rescues them from the historical oblivion perpetuated by the nationalist narrative of singular loyalty. Based on in-depth bilingual research, Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless gives much deserved complexities to the experiences of forgotten Nisei beyond the label of 'disloyal' or helpless victims. A transnational history at its best!"
—Eiichiro Azuma, author of In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan's Borderless Empire
"Michael R. Jin has transformed Nisei transnationalism from anecdote to experience. This is an impressive achievement."
—Lon Kurashige, author ofTwo Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States
"Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless is an important contribution to the fields of immigration and Asian American history due in no small part to Jin's polished writing skills. His combination of clear historical description, context, and analysis with just the right amount of sociological and interpretive language helps to make book both readable and informative.... Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless is not simply a study of a marginalized immigrant group 'caught between two worlds.' It portrays a diverse people who had to exercise considerable initiative to navigate multiple social, legal, national, and geopolitical contexts."
—John E. Van Sant, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"[Jin] has produced a book that is dramatically innovative in terms of its topic and one that is exceedingly well-written, astutely documented, and deserving of reaching a wide audience of engaged readers."
—Art Hansen, Nichi Bei News
"While Nisei... have been the subject of numerous studies, those almost entirely treat Nisei as Americans in the United States and fail to address the fact that a noninsignificant number of them had transpacific experiences in the transwar period. By making this latter group his focus, Jin not only works to fill in the gap that exists, but he also presents an interesting framework that offers an alternative to the nation-bounded one that so typically defines modern history. In addition to a reconceptualization of what it meant to be Japanese American during this time, he also offers an important discussion around how these figures are remembered in both the United States and Japan and what the stakes have been around memory making and memorializing."
—Emily Anderson, The Journal of Japanese Studies
"In offering an alternative way of conceptualizing both diaspora and migration, [Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless] opens the door to new avenues of inquiry and points to new areas of study, including questions that could also be asked about others who participated in an extended transpacific diaspora that was a product not just of two empires.... The potential inherent in the inter-imperial approach that Jin utilizes, in short, is evident not only in what it reveals about the Japanese American diaspora that is his focus but in the fact that it could be usefully extended also to take other imperial networks into account within both a transpacific and a broader worldwide context."
—Andrea Geiger, Diplomatic History