January 29, 2024/ 1:00 PM

Royce Hall, Rm 314

Understanding Race Beyond the Transatlantic Paradigm: From an Asian Perspective

Is “Race” a modern Western construction? This talk aims to introduce a new understanding of race beyond the transatlantic paradigm, based on my work-in progress edited book, Race in Asia (tentative title). While transatlantic racialization entailed encounters of peoples with pronouncedly different physical features, at least in Europe and Asia, racialization initially took place mostly between groups who have no or nearly no identifiable physical features. I present what I call three dimensions of “race”—“race”, “Race”, and “race as a Resistance”—to argue that it provides a more global understanding of race. In this talk, I will present a number of examples of each dimension of race and discuss how the three become interconnected, coalescing to produce and reinforce the idea of race.

Yasuko Takezawa is Professor at the Intercultural Research Institute, Kansai Gaidai University, and Professor Emeritus at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Kyoto University, which she retired from in 2023. She is president of the Japanese Association of Migration Studies, and a member of the Science Council of Japan (SCJ). After her award-winning first book on the transformation of ethnicity among Japanese Americans which focused on their war-time incarceration and redress, her research interests shifted from ethnicity to race. Over the past two decades, Professor Takezawa has been leading a series of large international collaborative research projects. She has earned a reputation as the leading scholar in race studies in Japan. One of her often-quoted arguments is that race is neither a modern nor a Western construction, but has existed since the Middle Ages, at least in East Asia as well as in Europe. Most of her works utilise interdisciplinary approaches, juxtaposing cultural anthropology, her trained field, along with other related fields such as sociology, history, art critics, biological anthropology, and genetics. As a visiting professor, she has taught at various universities outside of Japan, including MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Heidelberg University, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and will do so at L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales in the spring of 2024. Professor Takezawa’s publications in English include: Breaking the Silence: Redress and Japanese American Ethnicity, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995; Visibilities and Invisibilities of Race and Racism: Toward a New Global Dialogue (co-edited with Faye, V. Harrison and Akio Tanabe), New York: Routledge, in press; Race and Migration in the Transpacific (co-edited with Akio Tanabe), London: Routledge, 2023; Transpacific Japanese American Studies: Dialogues on Race and Racializations (co-edited with Gary Okihiro), Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2016; Racial Representations in Asia (ed. ). Kyoto/ Melbourne: Kyoto University Press/ Trans Pacific Press, 2011. For more details of these and of her open-access publications: https://yasukotakezawa.com/?lang=en

Sponsor(s): Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies