February 26th, 2014

Is Japanese Racism Unique? Reflections on the Japanese Monarchy and Modern Racism

Dr. Takashi Fujitani

Dr. David Chu Professor of History

University of Toronto


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

3:00-4:00 pm

COOR 4403


While recognizing that local or regional variants of racism have always existed, a properly historicized and global perspective suggests that the Japanese case may be more paradigmatic that exceptional, especially when we recognize that racism is a slippery phenomenon sustained by constantly evolving and sedimenting perceptions of human difference. Rather than take an exceptionalist approach, the talk will utilize the case of the Japanese monarchy’s entanglement in racism to show that Japanese racism is best understood as a regional manifestation of a global, modern racism. Phenotype, blood, culture, hygiene, and the quality of interiority have all factored into the virulence of racism in Japan and throughout the world. The presentation will pay special attention to the ways in which, especially during times of war (real or imagined) and security crises, assessments of the interiority of racialized subjects, as judged by interrogations of Japanese Americans confined in camps during the Second World War provide a particularly clear diagram of the mechanisms by which the question of interiority provided the grounds to both disavow and reproduce racism.


Sponsored by the School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies, and Asian Pacific American Studies.