Mixed Race Across the Pacific

Mixed Race Across the Pacific

University of Southern California
Freshman Seminars
Spring 2013

Duncan Williams, Associate Professor of Religion

In an era when a mixed-race President of the United States proudly proclaims himself as the first Pacific President of America, how might we rethink the study of race in a global, rather than merely a regional, perspective? With the recent changes to the U.S. Census that allows for multiple racial identifications, how might race and race relations be recast when multiplicity, hybridity, and creolization marks everyone from Obama’s half-American/half-Indonesian half-sister to the so-called black golfer Tiger Woods, who is actually primarily Asian?

This course investigates how shifting the paradigm of race studies to the Asia Pacific Americas (Transpacific) experience of race disrupts and reorients the traditionally binary, black/white or white/colored Transatlantic model of race studies in the United States that emerged from a focus on the Transatlantic slave trade. By examining the legacies of Western and Japanese empires in Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands and the legacies of disaporic communities in North and South Americas we will reframe the lens through which we approach race studies. Our second focus is to look at miscegenation, creolization, and how mixed race disrupts simplistic racial category formations. We will study comparative anti-miscegenation laws across transnational boundaries and the role of the offspring of mixed race unions that emerged through migrations, trade flows, and the impact of wars.

Duncan Williams is the chair of the School of Religion and director of the USC Center for Japanese Religions and Culture and the founder of the Hapa Japan Project (a database of mixed-race Japanese people from 1500s to the present) and the Mugen Project (the world’s first online bibliographical database on Buddhism).

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