Uprooting Community

Japanese Mexicans, World War II, and the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Selfa A. Chew (Author)
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Joining the U.S.’ war effort in 1942, Mexican President Manuel Ávila Camacho ordered the dislocation of Japanese Mexican communities and approved the creation of internment camps and zones of confinement. Under this relocation program, a new pro-American nationalism developed in Mexico that scripted Japanese Mexicans as an internal racial enemy. In spite of the broad resistance presented by the communities wherein they were valued members, Japanese Mexicans lost their freedom, property, and lives.

In Uprooting Community, Selfa A. Chew examines the lived experience of Japanese Mexicans in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands during World War II. Studying the collaboration of Latin American nation-states with the U.S. government, Chew illuminates the efforts to detain, deport, and confine Japanese residents and Japanese-descent citizens of Latin American countries during World War II. These narratives challenge the notion that Japanese Mexicans enjoyed the protection of the Mexican government during the war and refute the mistaken idea that Japanese immigrants and their descendants were not subjected to internment in Mexico during this period. Through her research, Chew provides evidence that, despite the principles of racial democracy espoused by the Mexican elite, Japanese Mexicans were in fact victims of racial prejudice bolstered by the political alliances between the United States and Mexico.

The treatment of the ethnic Japanese in Mexico was even harsher than what Japanese immigrants and their children in the United States endured during the war, according to Chew. She argues that the number of persons affected during World War II extended beyond the first-generation Japanese immigrants “handled” by the Mexican government during this period, noting instead that the entire multiethnic social fabric of the borderlands was reconfigured by the absence of Japanese Mexicans.
“While many are aware of the injustice behind the US government's internment of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during WW II, historian Chew has successfully taken on a project that needs just as much exposure by the historical profession.”—Choice

“This volume is necessary reading for Latin American, Mexican, Latino, and Asian American historians… [and] the general public will have a strong interest.”—Hispanic American Historical Review

“This excellent book adds to the growing literature on Asian migration to the Americas and would be useful for undergraduate and graduate courses on Mexican and borderlands history as well as on race and ethnicity in Latin America.”—Western Historical Quarterly

 “A refreshing perspective on wartime injustices long overlooked by historians.”—Southwestern Historical Quarterly

“Chew has crafted a thoughtful, well-researched, and critical analysis of this shameful period of Mexican and U.S. histories.”—Bárbara O. Reyes, author of Private Women, Public Lives: Gender and the Missions of the Californias

“Scholars in the field have been waiting for a book like this for a long time. Drawing on new archival discoveries and oral histories, the author provides for the first time a comprehensive look at the plight of Japanese Mexicans during World War II.”—Erika Lee, co-author of Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America
Uprooting Community
248 Pages 6 x 9 Published: 2016 Paperback (9780816534180)
Ebook (9780816532384)

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