Reading Against the Grain: Locating Settler Colonialism in Japanese American Oral Histories

Associate Professor Karen Leong, Arizona State University
Event Date: 
March 23, 2018
Event Time: 
4:00pm to 5:30pm
3512 Haven Hall
Event Tags: 

This talk is part of the Critical Ethnic and Asian/Pacific Islander American Studies' 2018 Speaker Series, "ORIENTATIONS: On Empire, Settler Colonialism, and Occupation."

In this presentation, Karen will discuss how she is reading oral histories of Japanese Americans in Arizona against the grain, as artifacts of U.S. settler colonialism. She explores how Japanese American immigrants were incorporated into the settler state via the logics of race and gender. And she will explain how herreading these oral histories against the grain introduced her to the experiences of the Yaqui, who like the Japanese, became residents on what has been traditionally O’odham land in Arizona. Having resettled in Arizona to escape systemic violence due to colonization, the Yaqui do not share the same claims to Oo’dham lands. Addressing the Japanese immigrant and Yaqui gendered and racialized experiences through a relational lens, she explores how empire and colonization resulted in their differential experiences of relocation and settler colonialism. Finally, she will discuss the complexities of community collaboration and her own responsibilities to the community that provided these oral histories as well as her responsibility as a scholar committed social justice to address the realities of settler colonialism.