This event is part of the Department of History’s Diversifying Historical Epistemologies Lecture Series
Join the Department of History for a presentation by Chris Suh ’10, Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Emory University on his latest book titled, The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023).
About the speaker: Chris Suh is a historian of race, ethnicity, and inequality, specializing in transpacific connections between the United States and East Asia and Asian American history.
About the book: The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023) 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, The Allure of Empire 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.