the Making of the "Nikkei"

by Miriam Kingsberg Kadia, Professor of Modern Japan, University of Colorado Boulder

Date & Time: Friday, January 13, 2023, at 11:00 AM

Location: Durham 240 & Zoom


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Lunch will be provided for those who attend in person. Please RSVP for in person attendance by January 10, 2023.



This talk explores the origins of “Nikkei” (person of Japanese descent) as both a common referent and as an identity. Prior to World War II, constructions of Japanese outside Japan reflected broadly shared assumptions about the fixity of ethnoracial and cultural characteristics. Japan’s defeat in 1945 changed these assumptions, as well as the relationship of the diaspora to their point of origin. Through a collaboration between Japanese emigrants and their descendants in Brazil, and the human scientists who came from Japan to study them in the 1950s, the term “Nikkei” emerged to offer a new identity to American citizens of Japanese extraction, and to the postwar, post-imperial Japanese state itself.