Center for Asia Pacific Studies
The Center is San Francisco’s academic gateway to the Asia Pacific, fostering and promoting innovative research, teaching and public programs.
Volume XIV, No. 2: Spring 2017
Asia Pacific Perspectives (ISSN: 2167-1699) is an international, peer-reviewed electronic journal that promotes cross-cultural understanding, tolerance, and the dissemination of knowledge about the Asia Pacific. The editors welcome submissions from all fields of the social sciences and the humanities that focus on the Asia Pacific, especially those adopting a comparative, interdisciplinary approach to issues of interrelatedness in the region. The journal facilitates academic discussions among both established scholars in the field and advanced graduate students. APP is published twice each year by the University of San Francisco Center for Asia Pacific Studies.
Racist propaganda in Japan and the U.S. during the Pacific War created a persistent perception that Japanese and Americans harbored a deep racial hatred for each other. But how did Westerners living in Japan interact with Japanese during the war, and were they victims of racial hatred? By examining the treatment and experiences of mixed-race individuals – particularly Eurasians – in Japan during the war, the author contextualizes and corrects allegations of racism among civilian Japanese.
Eurasians were defined in Hong Kong and China via measures of blood admixture as well as patrilineal descent, choice of family name, and socio-economic background. Although a strong sense of Eurasian solidarity was sometimes expressed in clan intermarriages and community cemeteries, individuals frequently attempted to erase their Eurasian identity for reasons of economic survival, and family-imposed silence remained strong. During WWII, duplicity became another shared element in Eurasian experience, as name-changing practices and submission to Occupation governments served to render Eurasians suspect both during and after wartime.
The term “haafu” originated in the 1930s to refer to a mixed-race person who appeared “half foreign.” By the early 2000s, when many haafu models and entertainers became popular, some fashion magazines began promoting makeup techniques to create the exotic haafu-gao (“half-face”) look that is most commonly associated with the offspring of racially “Asian” and “European” parents. How did this racialized category shift from being perceived as strange and undesirable to exotic and beautiful by the end of the 20th century?
In 1930, the young Han Suyin (pen name of Rosalie Chou, 1916-2012) read this passage in a book called Races of the World: “Racial mixtures are prone to mental unbalance, hysteria, alcoholism, generally of weak character and untrustworthy…" Shaken, she prayed, "Oh God… don't let me go mad, don't let my brain go, I want to study."…
I teach a course titled “Gender and Generation in Asian American Families,” in the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies within the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. I also teach a course titled, “Immigration and Multiculturalism in Asia,” for Berkeley’s International and Area Studies Department. The issue of “intermarriage and mixed race children” is a theme that attracts much attention from students in these courses. It has also produced a massive volume of literature since the 1980s…
In Japan, people who “look” like they might have a “foreign” parent or grandparent are called haafu (half foreign blood) or kwootaa (quarter foreign blood). They may or may not be Japanese. If Japanese, their family histories may or may not include ancestors from other parts of the world, and might not even include anyone born in Japan. Japan’s nationality is raceless, there are no race “boxes” to check in Japan, and no law has ever racialized Japanese nationals. Yet Nihonjin – the most common word for “the people of Japan” (kokumin) – is so widely racialized in Japanese society, and overseas, that people who “look” as though they might not be Japanese commonly find themselves the objects of attention…