Race and Citizenship in Hawaii’s Japanese American Consumer Culture

Creating the Nisei MarketIn 1922 the U.S. Supreme Court declared Japanese immigrants ineligible for American citizenship because they were not “white,” dismissing the plaintiff’s appeal to skin tone. Unable to claim whiteness through naturalization laws, Japanese Americans in Hawai‘i developed their own racial currency to secure a prominent place in the Island’s postwar social hierarchy. Creating the Nisei Market: Race and Citizenship in Hawaii’s Japanese American Consumer Culture, by Shiho Imai, explores how different groups within Japanese American society (in particular the press and merchants) staked a claim to whiteness on the basis of hue and culture. Using Japanese- and English-language sources from the interwar years, it demonstrates how the meaning of whiteness evolved from mere physical distinctions to cultural markers of difference, increasingly articulated in material terms.

August 2010 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3332-9 / $38.00 (CLOTH)