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Implied Promises Betrayed

Implied Promises Betrayed

“Intraracial” Alterity during Japan’s Imperial Period

(p.286) 13 Implied Promises Betrayed
The Affect of Difference
Edward Mack
University of Hawai'i Press

Even as Japan expanded its formal empire through force, it was also engaged in a process of “peaceful expansion” by which the state encouraged migration of its citizens abroad with no intention of challenging the sovereignty of the target nations. The primary destinations of these migration processes were countries in need of unskilled labor, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and, from 1908, Brazil. The resulting large-scale population shift placed Japanese subjects in direct contact with pronounced heterogeneity. This essay explores literary representations of alterity against this historical backdrop. These representations naturally reveal “race” as a central concern. However, they counter-intuitively reveal a preoccupation with intra-racial, rather than inter-racial, alterity. This is prompted not merely by a fear of the instability of identity itself, but also by a recognition that the implied solidarity of racial identity did not, in fact, vouchsafe preferential treatment.

Keywords:   alterity, intra-racial, inter-racial, Japan, migration, heterogeneity, racial identity, Brazil

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