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American Studies Book Talk: Chris Suh on The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion

Event Sponsor
American Studies Program
Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity
Center for East Asian Studies
History Department
Building 460, Margaret Jacks Hall
450 Jane Stanford Way, Building 460, Stanford, CA 94305
Terrace Room (426)

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Stanford’s American Studies Program Presents Chris Suh, Assistant Professor, Emory University, Stanford Department of History, Ph.D. '19 speaking on his book: The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion (Oxford University Press, 2023)

The Allure of Empire traces how American ideas about race in the Pacific were made and remade on the imperial stage before World War II. Following the Russo-Japanese War, the United States cultivated an amicable relationship with Japan based on the belief that it was a "progressive" empire akin to its own. Even as the two nations competed for influence in Asia and clashed over immigration issues in the American West, the mutual respect for empire sustained their transpacific cooperation until Pearl Harbor, when both sides disavowed their history of collaboration and cast each other as incompatible enemies.

In recovering this lost history, Chris Suh reveals the surprising extent to which debates about Korea shaped the politics of interracial cooperation. American recognition of Japan as a suitable partner depended in part on a positive assessment of its colonial rule of Korea. It was not until news of Japan's violent suppression of Koreans soured this perception that the exclusion of Japanese immigrants became possible in the United States. Central to these shifts in opinion was the cooperation of various Asian elites aspiring to inclusion in a "progressive" American empire. By examining how Korean, Japanese, and other nonwhite groups appealed to the United States, this book demonstrates that the imperial order sustained itself through a particular form of interracial collaboration that did not disturb the existing racial hierarchy.

"The Allure of Empire offers a thought-provoking and illuminating narrative of mutual attractions and collusions between self-proclaimed progressive empires. Taking readers from Korea to Cuba and California via the Philippines, and from Washington, DC, back to East Asia via Hawai'i, this book interweaves the separate(d) stories of immigration politics, military conquest, missionary expansionism, social science research, and global racial struggle into a coherent history of the imperial Pacific. This is transimperial scholarship at its best." — Eiichiro Azuma, author of In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan's Borderless Empire

"Chris Suh's masterful book follows the Pacific nations, especially Japan, the United States, and colonies over two centuries framed by the 'Yellow Peril.' Suh's narrative addresses elaborate ideologies, racial hierarchy, politics, and diplomacy." — Thomas Bender, author of Nation Among Nations: America's Place in World History

Wednesday, May 17th 12:00 PM | Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall (BLDG 460)

Lunch will be served! | PLEASE RSVP to Nancy Child (nchild [at] (nchild[at]stanford[dot]edu))

This event is sponsored by Stanford's Program in American Studies, and is cosponsored by the Department of History, the Center for Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies, and the Center of East Asian Studies