Challenges and Opportunities for a Historian of Japan Teaching about Race and Imperialism

Historically, Cold War Area Studies and the nationalization of Ethnic Studies have contributed to an Orientalist arrangement in which “their” pasts and contemporary conditions have been separated from “ours.”  For example, scholars of Asia are not supposed to teach about North American issues, let alone conduct research across national formations. However, this sequestering of “ourselves” from “them” has become increasingly untenable due to globalization and massive demographic changes in North America. This webinar discusses the challenges and possible methods for breaking through the separation of area studies (especially Japanese studies and East Asian studies) and ethnic studies by discussing two courses that I regularly teach — “Colonialisms in Asia” and “The Asia-Pacific Wars” — in which race, sex, gender and imperialism are key themes. These are modern phenomena that trouble the regions we Asia “experts” study and the places in which we live, teach and work. But an obscene screen sequesters these two knowledge formations, making it difficult for scholars of Asia to teach critically about racism in North America as well as about the U.S. and Canada as empires. While we Asia “experts” are normally assigned to study the people and nations “over there,” this webinar proposes that we need to refuse the disciplinary practices that the Cold War University has imposed upon us. The webinar will also propose that while important, linking Asian and Asian North American studies can only be one part of confronting the global problems of racism and empires.

View the Webinar Recording here

Webinar Slides (shared with Dr. Fujitani’s permission)