Looking Like the Enemy
Japanese Mexicans, the Mexican State, and US Hegemony, 1897–1945
Japanese citizens were initially lured to Mexico with promises of cheap and productive land in Chiapas. Many of the promises were false, and the immigrants were forced to fan out across the country, especially to the lands along the US border. As Jerry García reveals, they were victims of discrimination based on “difference,” but they also displayed “markers of whiteness” that linked them positively to Europeans and Americans, who were perceived as powerful and socially advanced. And, García reports, many Mexicans looked favorably on the Japanese as hardworking and family-centered.
The book delves deeply into the experiences of the Japanese on both sides of the border during World War II, illuminating the similarities and differences in their treatment. Although some Japanese Mexicans were eventually interned (at the urging of the US government), in general the fear and vitriol that Japanese Americans encountered never reached the same levels in Mexico.
Looking Like the Enemy is an ambitious study of a tumultuous half-century in Mexico. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of the immigrant experience in the Western Hemisphere and to the burgeoning field of borderlands studies.
“Looking Like the Enemy takes on topics including whiteness, revolution, modernity, and identity politics. The book engages with a broad historiography . . . [and] is a strong addition to a growing literature on Latin Americans of immigrant descent.”—Hispanic American Historical Review
“García’s attention to local circumstances makes his analysis compelling and helps him consider the broad context of Japanese immigrant settlement and acculturation process in Mexico during the first three decades of the twentieth century.”—Journal of American History
“A signal contribution to a wide range of intersecting historical fields. . . . Looking Like the Enemy deserves a wide reception from scholars and students examining Mexican, Asian American (in the hemispheric sense), and immigration histories.”—International Migration Review
“The first major monograph on Japanese migration to Mexico . . . [and] a natural fit in undergraduate courses on Latin American, Mexican, and borderlands history as well as ethnic studies.”—Western Historical Quarterly
“This book should be required reading in the fields of Asian immigration and of borderland studies.”—Bulletin of Latin American Research
“It is very well written and provides a wealth of information on a virtually unknown aspect of Mexican history and the history of the Japanese diaspora in the Americas.”—History: Reviews of New Books
“Despite the complexity of interactions traced by the author, his clear prose and laser focus make Looking Like the Enemy a book accessible to wide-ranging audiences.”—Journal of American Ethnic History
“García correctly argues that although the experiences of Japanese Mexicans during this time period were extremely diverse, for those who were ‘voluntarily’ relocated to new communities, their ‘self-internment’ was on a par with the treatment of Japanese Americans in the United States.”—Journal of the West
“Jerry García’s Looking Like the Enemy proves more than up to the task of disentangling, first, the lies and reality, and second, the trilateral relations between Mexico, the United States, and Japan to recover the Japanese experience in Mexico through World War II.”—Pacific Historical Review
“Looking Like the Enemy will become the standard text in the field on the topic of the Japanese in Mexico. There’s nothing like it.”—Robert Chao Romero, author of The Chinese in Mexico, 1882–1940
“One of the great strengths of this book is the social histories of Japanese and Japanese Mexicans.”—Ben Fallaw, author of Forced Marches: Soldiers and Military Caciques in Modern Mexico