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Japan and African Americans from the Russo-Japanese War to Pearl Harbor

Friday, March 2, 2012   19:30 - 21:00

  • Ben Karp

From the Russo-Japanese to the Pacific War, mutual admiration flourished between Japanese nationalists and globally minded black Americans. The 1905 victory of the non-white Japan over a “white” Russia was such a public and momentous reversal of general assumptions about race and ability that the great black American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois could conclude; “the magic of the word ‘white’ is already broken, and the Color Line in civilization has been crossed.” Du Bois visited Japan in 1936 lending credibility to the empire’s colonial aspirations and claims that it stood against Western supremacy. Meanwhile, agents of Japan befriended Harlem street preachers and toured black colleges praising black resistance and promoting their own emerging Co-prosperity sphere as an achievement of pan-Asian harmony.

Ben Karp’s talk will outline African-American – Japanese relations from 1905 – 1941, demonstrating how the rise of Japan impacted black thinking about race and power and, in turn, how early twentieth century black writers and activists inspired Japanese nationalists to present their drive for empire as an expression of anti-racism not aggression. Most importantly, the talk will suggest why this historical correspondence, long ignored, still matters and can yet provide meaningful insights into race, nationalism and cross cultural politics.

Date & Time:
Friday, March 2, 2012   19:30 - 21:00 (Doors open at 19:00)
2F, Azabu Hall
Temple University, Japan Campus
2-8-12 Minami Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Kyle Cleveland (ICAS Associate Director)
If possible, we ask you to register by E-mail (icas@tuj.temple.edu) , but we always welcome participants even you do not register. / 参加登録はなしでも参加できますので、直接会場へお越しください。


Ben Karp