Book Review: Exploring the Borderlands of Race, Nation, Sex and Gender

Book Review: Exploring the Borderlands of Race, Nation, Sex and Gender

Discover Nikkei: Japanese Migrants and Their Descendants

Nancy Matsumoto

Growing up in predominantly white Marin County, mixed-race yonsei Akemi Johnson hates her name and just wants to blend in. In college, though, her attitude changes. She studies race and ethnicity and travels to Japan. Though her stated purpose there is to study issues around the American bases in Okinawa, she later writes, ”My real motives were more personal and intertwined with the past, with traumas that had been born many years before.” She reflects on why her grandparents, who were imprisoned at the Tule Lake and Gila River concentration camps, never talked about those experiences. Eventually she returns to America satisfied that she has confronted her “fears of association, shame, really, of my Japanese ancestry—and won.”

Johnson’s story is just one of many that psychologist Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu tells in his latest book, When Half is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities. Exploring the complex issue of identity among mixed-race Asians has been his life work. With subtleness and great empathy he guides us through what he calls “the borderlands” where transnational and multiethnic identities are formed, arguing that in an increasingly globalized world, identities are more flexible and inclusive, and can “challenge the meaning of national and racial categories and boundaries.”…

Read the entire review here.

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