Diversity Speaker Series - Subverting Exclusion

Subverting Exclusion - Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste and Borders, 1885-1928
Wed November 7 -  12-2pm Baxter Events Center

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.

Andrea 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.

About Andrea Geiger

Andrea Geiger grew up around the world, attending school in places as distant from one another as Amsterdam, Pennsylvania, Hiroshima, and Bangalore. (She still has fond memories of learning to herd water buffalo in India.) She graduated from the University of Washington Law School in 1991 after serving as editor-in-chief of the Washington Law Review and spent several years clerking for judges at the Washington Court of Appeals and the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington.

She also served as Reservation Attorney for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in northeastern Washington, before arriving at the conclusion that history offered a more effective way than law to explore the kinds of questions she was most interested in regarding ways in which law has been used to create and maintain racial boundaries in North America, and particularly the United States and Canada. Her research and teaching interests include trans-Pacific and borderlands history, immigration history, Aboriginal law and history, and Nikkei history. Her dissertation, "Cross-Pacific Dimensions of Race, Caste and Class: Meiji-era Immigrants in the North American West, 1885-1928", was awarded the Institute for Pacific Northwest Studies Dissertation Prize for 2007.

Recent articles include “Negotiating the Boundaries of Race and Class: Meiji Diplomatic Responses to North American Categories of Exclusion,” B.C. Studies, no. 156/157, Winter/Spring 2007/2008 and “Caught in the Gap: the Transit Privilege and North America’s Ambiguous Borders,” forthcoming in Benjamin Johnson and Andrew Graybill, eds., Bridging Borders in North America, to be published by Duke University Press in 2009.

Andrea Geiger is assistant professor of history at Simon Fraser University. This is her first book.

Posted on: November 27th, 2012 at 15:48:25

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