Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan [Presentation]

Posted in Asian Diaspora, History, Live Events, Media Archive on 2013-05-20 19:46Z by Steven

Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan [Presentation]

German Institute for Japanese Studies (Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien)
Jochi Kioizaka Bldg. 2F
7-1 Kioicho
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0094, Japan
Wednesday, 2013-06-12, 18:30 JST (Local Time)

Leslie Helm, Seattle Business Magazine

The DIJ Social Science Study Group is a forum for young scholars and Ph.D. candidates in the Social Sciences. Presentations on a scholar’s research project are about 45 minutes, followed by about 45 minutes of Q&A. The DIJ Social Science Study Group usually meets once a month, on a Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Leslie Helm’s decision to adopt Japanese children launches him on a personal journey through his family’s 140 years in Japan, beginning with his German great-grandfather, who worked as a military adviser in 1870, married a Japanese woman and started a stevedoring and forwarding business in Yokohama. The family operates a successful business across two world wars by having sons take German, Japanese and U.S. citizenship, and transferring management among the sons as Japan shifts its alliances from the U.S. and Britain to Germany and Italy. While the business survives, the family suffers from its mixed-race identity and the inability to ever truly establish a sense of belonging in Japan. The book draws a contrast between the Helm family, and the family of Leslie’s mother, Barbara Schinzinger, whose father, Robert Schinzinger, taught German in Japan for sixty years but always maintained a strong identity as a German national with a duty to teach the Japanese about “the true Germany.”

In this presentation I am presenting my recently published book on this topic. My family history and our story of a multinational, biracial merchant family serves as historical document, shedding light on the political, economic, cultural, and racial interactions and tensions between Japan and the United States for more than a century and a half, right up to the present day.

For more information, click here. View the program here.

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