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date: 20 September 2019

Settler Colonialism in Asian North American Representation

Summary and Keywords

The study of settler colonialism has evolved from a nearly exclusive examination of the interplay of Indigeneity and white settler colonial domination to an engagement that has become attentive to questions of racialized migration. Because British settler colonies violently displaced Indigenous peoples without widespread exploitation of their labor, racialized migrant labor has played an important role in establishing and developing settler colonies, from the exploitation of enslaved and convict labor, to indentured and contract labor, and to contemporary iterations of guest and undocumented labor. The reliance on hyper-exploitable, deportable, or disposable classes of migrants has been an integral logic of settler colonialism in North America, rendering Indigenous communities even more vulnerable to dislocation, dispossession, and environmental harm. Asian North American cultural representation offers a rich site to explore settler colonial logics of land dispossession, resource extraction, relocation, urban redevelopment, and incarceration. In particular, Asian North American cultural production has often recycled settler colonial tropes that both denigrate and romanticize Indigenous cultures in claims for belonging that attempt to challenge the racial logics of civil, social, and political exclusion. In North America, the projection of a heroic “pioneer” identity aims to recover early Asian labor from historical obscurity by demonstrating its vital contributions to developing the settler nation. These expressions reinforce the value of Western civilization and industry over an empty, uncivilized, and unproductive Indigenous world. Asian American invocations of “local” identity in Hawai‘i similarly assert a romanticized identification with Indigenous cultures that obscures Asian Americans’ structural dominance and active role in the dispossession of Native Hawaiians. Alternatively, Asian North American cultural producers have also become strong voices in social and cultural movements to prioritize Indigenous self-determination, ecological protection, and decolonial anti-capitalism. Critical approaches to Asian North American representation have become increasingly attuned to reckoning with colonial complicity, exploring the ethics of responsibility, indebtedness, and solidarity with Indigenous communities.

Keywords: race, Asian, settler colonialism, land, labor, dispossession, decolonization, nation-building, incarceration, colonial conflation, Indigenous peoples

Settler colonialism reflects the common social, cultural, and political destiny of a transnational configuration that Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds refer to simply as “white men’s countries.”1 Beginning in the 19th century, the spread of whiteness was “a transnational form of racial identification [that was] at once global in its power and personal in its meaning, the basis of geo-political alliance and a subjective sense of self.”2 The patterns of Indigenous decimation and dispossession, racialized labor recruitment and exploitation, immigrant restriction, and internment are evolving elements that tie Canada and the United States to a racial destiny shared by Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Tying the “Asiatic” to the project of building a transnational white settler colonial alliance, the renowned xenophobe Lothrop Stoddard remarked in the 1920s that “Nothing is more striking than the instinctive and instantaneous solidarity which binds together Australians and Afrikanders, Californians and Canadians, into a ‘sacred union’ at the mere whisper of Asiatic migration.”3 The racialization of Asians in settler colonies has since evolved in complex and heterogeneous ways across geographical regions. These changes have reflected shifting global demands of capital and labor that have reconfigured the power of the nation state and, since the election of Donald Trump, reasserted a white economic alliance that echoes Stoddard’s xenophobia of a century ago.

The intersection of settler colonialism and Asian North American representation complicates longstanding conceptions of anti-racism, “minority” politics, national exclusion, and racialized migration that predominate within the fields of Asian American, Asian Canadian, and Asian diaspora studies. The objective in this article is to consider Asian migrants’ role in the theft and capitalist development of Indigenous lands, alongside the genocidal displacements of Indigenous peoples. At the outset, there are several caveats to this article’s method of engaging with settler colonialism and the spatial representation of “Asian North America.” In order to place Indigenous land rather than the non-contiguous nation states of the United States and Canada at the center of this analysis, “North America” becomes a misleading geographical marker for the work considered here. Because Hawai‘i is part of “Asian America,” yet eclipsed in a North American continental framing, this study expands beyond North America into the Pacific; however, the United States’ colonial territories of Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa are beyond the scope of this examination. In addition, this article’s focus on British settler colonialism limits a deeper engagement with Mexico, whose history of Spanish settler colonialism in North America presents important and distinct colonial logics that exceed the purview of this article. These caveats aside, by illuminating the dynamics of Asian racialization that both complicate national and geographical boundaries, a settler colonial framework can reveal the structural and cultural processes by which racial capitalism and settler colonialism intersect.

Although settler colonialism has been an important analytical frame outside of the United States, the publication of Amerasia Journal’s special issue, entitled “Whose Vision: Asian Settler Colonialism in Hawai‘i,” edited by Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura, prompted a decisive turn toward an examination of the intersection of Asian racialization and Indigeneity.4 The issue brought together Indigenous Hawaiian and Asian American scholars to disrupt a broader conceptualization of Asian Americans as a minority identity, one that rendered them primarily victims rather than participants within a settler colonial regime of Indigenous Hawaiian dispossession and ecological devastation. Given that Asian Americans in Hawai‘i are a demographic majority and exert significant political power as business leaders and politicians, the journal issue was groundbreaking for advancing a theorization of “Asian settler colonialism” to expose Asian Americans’ distinctive role in contributing to Native Hawaiian dispossession. As formerly exploited indentured laborers on Hawaiian plantations, Asian Americans had seldom viewed themselves as settlers or even part of a dominant oppressive class. Asian Americans more readily identified with a status that was shared with Native Hawaiians. Reinforcing this conflation, prior to Census 2000, Native Hawaiians were collapsed into the “Asian Pacific Islander” classification. After successful lobbying from Native Hawaiian groups, they were reclassified as “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.”5 Thus, the journal issue made powerful interventions in Asian American projections of a quasi-Indigenous “local” identity and challenged discourses that celebrated Asians as “pioneers” responsible for the successful, civilizing development of a Hawaiian paradise—at the expense of Native Hawaiian struggles for self-determination. The exposure the journal gave to the intersection of race and settler colonialism combined with growing social movements opposed to the occupation of Palestine and with the increased visibility of a new generation of Native and Indigenous scholars in Canada and the United States. Prior to this point, settler colonialism studies were almost exclusively framed in terms of a Native/white settler binary and for the most part set aside questions of race, racialized migration, or the interplay of race and Indigeneity.

Building on the interventions inaugurated by the journal issue, this article focuses on three paradigms of settler colonialism and Asian North American representation. The first is the thematic paradigm of “claiming America.” Although this theme is associated with Asian American cultural nationalism, analogous expressions have also been prevalent in Asian Canadian representations. The second paradigm focuses on contexts of Indigenous-Asian colonial conflation and connection, examining the way colonial policies of Native dispossession, removal, and relocation have been applied to Asian groups, particularly Japanese civilians who were incarcerated during and, in Canada, after World War II. Third and finally, the article considers the paradigm of decolonial solidarity against racial capitalism, focusing on alliances between Asian immigrant and refugee communities and Indigenous Nations. This involves a consideration of neoliberal settler colonialism, particularly in relation to the role of eliminating Native title through state incorporation, urban redevelopment, and resource extraction. In each paradigm, Asian North American cultural production illuminates both the tensions and productive crossings that enable a more expansive vision of settler colonial racial capitalism.

Before delving into these paradigms, it is crucial to distinguish settler colonialism from myriad other colonial configurations even while emphasizing the heterogeneity of existing settler colonies. To begin with the first point, settler colonies are distinct from the more familiar franchise colonies, for example, British India or the Dutch East Indies—regions where economic exploitation occurred without large-scale white settlement. Unlike these former colonies, settler colonies are incredibly resistant to decolonization efforts because settlers intend to stay. They are “breakaway” colonies insofar as they transfer the power of the metropolitan center to the periphery, subverting a normative logic of colonialism.6 Drawing on the legal justification of terra nullius (nobody’s land), settlers imposed a property regime that relegated Indigenous peoples to the status of occupiers rather than owners of their land. In establishing British settler colonies in North America and Australasia, territorial expansion rather than the exploitation of Indigenous labor was a central motive of settlement.7 Elsewhere, in African settler colonies such as South Africa, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Kenya, and Algeria, settlers “wanted the land and the labor, but not the people.”8 Because white settlement was a primary goal in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and in African colonies, the process of detaching from British imperial rule—becoming “postcolonial” as it were—did not structurally alter the colonial relationship between settlers and Indigenous populations. As a result, the United States’ revolutionary war for independence from the British empire was hardly an emancipation from colonial domination or slavery for Indigenous and enslaved African populations. The growing independence of settler nations and diminishing role of the British imperial metropole actually facilitated successive stages of Indigenous elimination, from invasion to removal, relocation, reservation, termination, and assimilation. This renders a paradoxical situation where, as Robert J. C. Young describes it, “the postcolonial operates simultaneously as the colonial.”9

The heterogeneity of settler colonial nations is equally important to recognize, particularly in terms of the degree to which the primary political struggle is centered on Indigenous peoples and settlers. For instance, among the starkest and most brutal of binary colonial formations is Occupied Palestine, which is a comparatively recent site of settler colonialism. As a settler colony it powerfully magnifies the struggle between settler and Indigenous populations in ways that recall the frontier violence of 19th-century America. The illegal occupation, siege of Gaza, and ongoing construction of residential settlements in the West Bank are uncanny corollaries to the lead-up to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which relocated tens of thousands of peoples from the Southeastern Nations east of the Mississippi River. From this view, the glaring binarism of Occupied Palestine offers a window onto US history. But it is difficult to transpose the particular character of dualistic struggle onto the continental United States in the present tense. The United States’ history of racial slavery and racialized contexts of forced and voluntary migration complicate any neat binarism between settler and Native positions.

In the case of Hawai‘i, another relatively recent site of settler colonialism, Asian Americans have replaced original white settlers and transformed and extended those eliminatory logics into a formation of Asian settler colonialism that is also reflective of the indigenous/settler binary. As Dean Saranillio qualifies, “While migration in and of itself does not equate to colonialism, migration to a settler colonial space, where Native lands and resources are under political, ecological, and spiritual contestation, means the political agency of immigrant communities can bolster a colonial system initiated by White settlers.”10 Thus, the example of Hawai‘i demonstrates how a formerly exploited migrant population can achieve structural dominance, a perfect illustration of Patrick Wolfe’s assessment of settler colonialism as a “structure not an event.”11 Although white settlers exploited indentured Asian laborers in the 1890s as part of the process of dispossessing Native Hawaiians of their land, Asian American invocations of “local” identity and rejection of Native Hawaiian claims for sovereignty reproduce the logics of colonial dispossession. But the larger question of whether descendants of African slaves or other racialized migrants are unequivocally “settlers” remains contested and has given rise to alternative concepts and frameworks to differentiate non-Indigenous racialized subjects. These include Jodi Byrd’s concept of “arrivants,” the usage of “settlers of color,” and the term “alien.”12 Regardless of nomenclature, the crucial point is to consider how transatlantic slavery and racialized labor migration are integral to the settler colonial mode of production that reproduces Indigenous dispossession and racial disposability.13

Patrick Wolfe, the late Australian anthropologist who is most closely associated with the field of settler colonial studies, made influential theorizations of land and labor in order to distinguish a foundational settler relationship to Native peoples and African slaves in North America. Within this framework of land and labor, Native people are subject to a logic of elimination based on land, and Blackness is primarily subject to a logic of exclusion based on the history of slave labor. A logic of elimination is driven to eradicate an Indigenous population rather than controlling it through various exclusionary measures—as Wolfe puts it, “settler colonialism destroys to replace.”14 Genocide and biological absorption are two contradictory but complementary means of extinguishing an Indigenous population: the first attempts to kill the population off, the second assimilates them out of existence. On the other hand, Black exclusivity and exclusion were based on the history of slavery, whereby the exclusively inherited condition of slavery increased the population of slaves through biological reproduction, thereby expanding property value. The result is that the racial content of Indigeneity and Blackness are mirror opposites, insofar as Indigenous blood is rendered inherently dilutable and assimilable to whiteness, unlike blackness, whose hereditary association with slavery fused it with an unlimited power to contaminate. Both processes served a unified objective of increasing white property in the form of land and slaves.

While these points are helpful to clarify the heterogeneity of race in a settler colonial context, they can also be problematized in order to disrupt the privileged viewpoint of the settler. As Manu Vimalassery, Juliana Hu Pegues, and Alyosha Goldstein argue, “Wolfe’s cartographic model is that of the frontier . . . [but the] frontier is a linear model, a binary opposition between civilization and savagery, reflecting both a colonizing subjectivity and its state form.”15 They ask, “What spatio-temporal imaginaries and concomitant critical models, might become visible if we thought from other spatial forms . . . that are often more relevant to indigenous epistemologies than straight lines?”16 In other words, these alternative models complicate the idea that Native people are reducible to a frontier vision of commodified land or a definition of agriculturally determined labor, as well as the idea that black and brown people are reducible only to labor but not land or nature. As Black and Indigenous feminists have also pointed out, the categories of land and labor are themselves circumscribed by gender and sexual assumptions that often erase the positionality of women and gender-nonconforming people. In addition, Wolfe’s conceptualization of the settler logic of Indigenous “elimination” risks sidelining Native resistance and sovereignty. As Jean O’Brien outlines, “Embedded in the logic of elimination is the possibility of slippage between the intent of settler colonialism and its tangible outcomes, which carry the implication of extinction.”17 The result is that the history of Indigenous resistance to colonial relations of domination and struggle for sovereignty often fades from view and “one runs the risk of reproducing “another form of ‘elimination of the native.’”18 Finally, the problematic tendencies to collapse settler colonial and Indigenous studies or to address settler colonial logics without engaging Indigeneity—treating settler colonialism as “stand-alone analytic”—are further areas that add to the critical frame through which questions of Asian North American representation enter.19

“Claiming America” and other Settler Tropes

In a 1980 interview, Maxine Hong Kingston famously made the following assessment of her metafictional memoir China Men: “What I am doing in this new book is claiming America.”20 In the memoir, as her father is smuggled into the United States in a box on a ship, he too is determined “to claim the Gold Mountain, in his own country.”21 This idea of “claiming America” has become a staple motif of Asian American cultural nationalism, whose focus on US domestic racial politics remains an important modality in the field of Asian American studies, combined with or alongside the analysis of transnational movements of culture, capital, and labor. In its earliest expressions, cultural nationalism was associated with a decidedly masculinist and prescriptive agenda articulated by Aiiieeeee!!! group, whose members included Frank Chin, Jeffrey Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Wong. As Sau-ling Wong lays out, the heterosexist, androcentric, US- and Anglophone-centric contours of early cultural nationalism expressed convoluted prescriptions to disavow Asianness for the purposes of indigenization:

[their work] features certain premises—anti-Orientalism, valorization of working-class enclaves, “claiming America”—that explicitly or implicitly discourage, if not preclude, critical attention on things Asian. (Gender enters the equation in that, with things Asian implicitly theorized as feminine, cultural nationalism is committed to an aggressively masculinist agenda.) In fact, it seems anything that threatens to undermine the demonstration of the “indigenization” (the “becoming American”) of Asian Americans must be scrupulously avoided.22

The irony is that in their vociferous challenge to both Asian exoticization and assimilationist white-washing, their fidelity to what Wong calls an “indigenization model” and promotion of Americanization nevertheless reinforced an assimilationist teleology that they sought to challenge. This androcentric variant of cultural nationalism condemned the historiographic erasure of Asian American male “pioneers” who labored to “settle” the West. However, Asian Americans’ role in railroad construction and the like contributed to settler colonial expansion across North America and eventually the Pacific, decimating Indigenous Nations through military force and removal policies, eventually subjecting Indigenous Nations to liberal settler property logics such as the Dawes Severalty Act in 1887. The Act turned communally held Native land into individual allotments owned by individual property holders. This led to the mass transfer of Native land to white settlers. These settler-imperial logics were reproduced as US imperial expansion continued across the Pacific. Counterintuitively, Asian American contributions to settler colonial expansion also led to policies designed to expel or exclude Asian migrants, such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1924 Johnson-Reed Immigration Act.

Pioneering themes are certainly present in Asian American literature, but they also reveal an ambivalence toward the gendered project of territorial conquest. For example, in Kingston’s China Men, the Chinese railroad worker Ah Goong distorts the association of heroic frontier masculinity embedded in the desire to “claim” America. Whether he is wandering alone through the Sierra woods or sitting with his family at the dinner table, he bears his penis and subjects it to worldly questioning. Contrary to the virility associated with the train as machine in the garden, he continually wonders “what it was that it was for, what a man was for, what he had to have a penis for.”23 Scrutinizing the function and reproductive capacity of his body, Ah Goong presents a warped mirror of the train’s phallic symbolism. His inward chastisement outwardly questions the relation between male sexuality and gender and the western patriarchal mythos of continental plunder, taming, and progress. Alternatively, Frank Chin’s work has been more strongly fixed on recycling masculinist settler tropes of mobility and possession. As Sau-ling Wong writes, “It remains for Frank Chin to bring out the intoxicatingly destructive aspects of mechanized locomotion, the sexual violence implied in the male imagery of continental penetration, and the intense contradictions involved in creating a Chinese American mobility myth around the symbol of the railroad.”24 At the same time, his works’ psychic investments in iconic characters like John Wayne (“Riding the Rails with Chickencoop Slim”) and The Lone Ranger (The Chickencoop Chinaman) also betray more complex interracial forms of homosocial desire. As Daniel Y. Kim elaborates, “What Chin tends to offer up in his writings are literary self-portraits of an Asian American masculinity in ruins, of men who seem only to hate themselves for their inability to be men.”25 Thus, the masochism and melancholia of Chin’s male characters render a frontier masculinity foreclosed for Asian American men, yet the continually thwarted desire for “homoerotic connectedness that comes in the moment of travel” reveals that a complex libidinal economy is nevertheless articulated against the gendered backdrop of Indigenous dispossession. But the crisis of masculine identification explored in Chin’s works bears some resemblance to Ah Goong’s self-flagellation and potentially exposes the gendered settler colonial dynamics that exploit racialized Asian labor in order to both exclude and erase that laboring presence. Moreover, it reveals how the exclusive racial construction of white settler masculinity renders Asian American masculinity illegible, erased, or as a site of “racial castration.”26 Chin’s characters, so invested in Hollywood constructions of the Wild West where “You take possession,” ultimately seem to ask, as Judith Butler does: “How can one read a text for what does not appear within its own terms, but which nevertheless constitutes the illegible conditions of its own legibility?”27

In Canada, the most familiar text associated with the project of “claiming” Canada is Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, a novel based on the letters of Muriel Kitagawa that chronicles the experience and aftermath of a Japanese Canadian family’s removal from Vancouver to a remote internment camp in the British Columbia interior.28 In the attempt to “claim Canada,” the novel renders a problematic conflation of Japanese Canadian and Indigenous identities. At the onset of the novel, the protagonist Naomi accompanies her uncle to the ravine and imagines him as an American Indian warrior hero:

Uncle could be Chief Sitting Bull squatting here. He has the same prairie-baked skin, the deep brown furrows like dry riverbeds creasing his cheeks. All he needs is a feather headdress, and he would be perfect for a picture postcard—“Indian Chief from Canadian Prairie”—souvenir of Alberta, made in Japan.29

Naomi’s depiction functions as an attempt to indigenize Uncle on two levels: first, his Indigeneity stems from a phenotypical convergence with Chief Sitting Bull that results in their same “prairie-baked skin”; and second, Uncle’s Indigeneity is established through his figurative embodiment of landscape, with “dry riverbeds creasing his cheeks.” Although this portrayal clearly intends to naturalize Japanese Canadians to the landscape, it also acknowledges the iterative circuits of dispossession and commodification that make it possible for a Japanese import to offer a “picture postcard” vision of Indigeneity. Naomi projects a similar analogy between her aunt Obasan and an Indigenous fighter. Gauging her aunt’s inability to integrate into a community of elderly white Canadians, she concludes that Obasan would be as “welcome as a Zulu warrior.”30 Later in the novel, describing her moribund life as a schoolteacher, Naomi once again pauses to reflect on a shared Japanese and Native disposition.31 She observes that “some of the Native children I’ve had in my classes over the years could almost pass for Japanese, and vice versa. There’s something in the animal-like shyness I recognize in the dark eyes. A quickness to look away.”32

The implications of these figurative projections of cross-racial identification are justifiably vexed. On one hand, as Marie Lo explains, these identifications “blur the boundaries of what is Native and what is Japanese,” placing Japanese Canadians on a broader colonial continuum that begins with dispossession of Indigenous people.33 On the other, as Lo also points out, these modes of Native identification participate in a long-standing Canadian settler nationalism that has sought to “elaborate a national and autochthonous claim to the land” through white identifications with the figure of the Native. That the novel similarly attempts to naturalize Japanese Canadians is reflected no less problematically in Aunt Emily’s continual refrain “This is my own, my native land.”34 Drawing on the way settler nationalism informs the use of Native figures in contemporary Anglophone Canadian literature, Marie Lo argues that Obasan’s representation of Native figures “can be seen as a variant on mainstream nationalism, whereby authors who are marginalized and prevented from identifying with dominant Anglo-Canadian culture can find in Native culture ‘a prior superior culture with which to identify.’”35

In Hawai‘i as well, Asian American invocations of “local” identity have been used to both reflect community-based struggles against a white Western cultural and political dominance and as a practice of Indigenization. As Candace Fujikane points out, “the term ‘local’ is often used to mask the political power that Asian settlers have historically exercised often against Hawaiians.”36 In a novel such as R. Zamora Linmark’s experimental Rolling the Rs, a gender- and sexually-nonconforming group of mostly Filipina/o/x fifth graders express their “local” identity through their use of Hawaiian Creole English (HCE)—or, pidgin English—in defiance of their ethnic Japanese school teachers. The refusal to speak Standard American English is cast as a strategy of decolonization in its rejection of neocolonial discipline.37 While the novel illuminates the neocolonial position of East Asian Americans and the layered forms of colonial violence that haunt the Filipina/o/x diaspora, the Filipina/o/x characters’ use of HCE establishes their “local” cultural authenticity, while rendering absent Native Hawaiian characters. As Ku’ualoha Ho’omanawanui explains, the celebration of Hawaiian Creole is a settler strategy that attempts to resolve the identity crisis that Asian Americans feel in Hawai’i:

[Asian Americans] feel “different” from their continental Asian counterparts, who identify themselves as “American,” and thus have cloaked themselves with a “local” veil, claiming a “local” voice through Hawai‘i Creole English. Yet the authentic sound and voice of Hawai‘i is ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, the Hawaiian language, not HCE.38

The use of “local” identity thus functions performatively to indigenize Asian Americans while participating in the erasure of Native Hawaiian cultural politics.

Colonial Conflations

While Asian North American representation has recycled settler tropes of pioneering and settlement, Asian and Indigenous communities have also been subject to processes of colonial conflation by the settler state. The examples in this section demonstrate how the racialized, carceral state is underwritten by the settler colonial logics of Indigenous dispossession, removal, containment, and incarceration. In particular, the intersection of Indigenous colonization and Japanese wartime incarceration exemplifies a practice of conflation that accentuates how the detention camp was a site that, as Jodi Byrd points out, spatializes a “recursive colonialism that, during World War II, served to enjamb Japanese American detainees within the histories of containment and expropriation that strip lands and nations from American Indians.”39 Indeed, the bureaucratic structure governing the incarceration of 113,000 Japanese Americans in ten remote camps was modeled on historical and existing colonial operations. From 1942 to 1946, the US War Relocation Authority (WRA) was largely staffed by personnel from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Exemplifying the BIA-WRA connection was Dillon Myers, a ten-year veteran of the Indian Service, who was made director of the WRA for four years at Gila, Arizona, before assuming leadership of the BIA in 1950.40 The similarities between the way the US government handled American Indians and Japanese detainees often stemmed from Myers’s conflation of Japanese and Indigenous bodies. A colleague once assessed Myers’s tendency to collapse the two racial groups, remarking, “Like all of those guys [in the Indian Service] he feels that there are only two kinds of Indians—gooduns and baduns—and feels that Japs are Indians.”41 Behind the barbed wire, Japanese internees at Poston, Arizona, drew similar comparisons in their inquiries about whether “they would be ‘kept’ the rest of their lives on reservations like Indians.”42 Indeed, one of Eleanor Roosevelt’s chief objections to Japanese internment camps was that it risked producing a culture of dependency: “If we don’t look out we will create another Indian problem.”43 Once Japanese Americans were incarcerated, the economic threat they were associated with was resignified as the economic burden of social welfare.

In Canada, the government’s instinct was similarly to conflate Japanese internees and First Nations peoples. When the federal government was devising plans for the expulsion of 22,000 Japanese Canadians from the hundred-mile “protected area” on the coast of British Columbia, officials explored the possibility of using First Nations residential schools as sites for their internment. Although this plan was never executed, bureaucratic discourse functioned to fuse Japanese Canadians and First Nations as similarly alien to a white Canada and to promote Indigenous colonization as a useful template for Japanese internment. Mona Oikawa explains that one officer reporting to the British Columbia Security Commission stated, “We are hoping that mutually satisfactory arrangements can be made with your Commission so that the present staff could look after the Japanese on the basis somewhat similar to that applying in the case of the Indians.”44 Thus, in stark contrast to conspiratorial and destructive associations of economic power associated with the Japanese “yellow peril,” Japanese detainees are here aligned with colonial subjects.

Asian American literature and film has explored the history and experience of such colonial conflations and, in some cases, geographical overlapping of Native reservations in relation to Japanese detention camps. Ruth Y. Okimoto’s Sharing a Desert Home: Life on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, 1942–45 chronicles her experience as one of the 20,000 Japanese civilians incarcerated on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Poston in Arizona—the largest internment camp built in the United States. Drawing on the recursive colonial logics of Japanese incarceration on reservation land, Okimoto writes that “in an ironic twist of history, the Japanese detainees at Poston experienced what American Indians did in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries.”45 As an uncanny precursor to Japanese confinement, Native Americans were similarly relocated to this desolate landscape. As Okimoto explains “Citing national security and the need to protect white settlers, the US government had similarly herded American Indians onto this desolate, arid, and unproductive stretch of land.”46 Japanese American families were directed to irrigate the land in order to develop the local economy. Promoting this plan was John Collier, famed for ending the pattern of dispossession enabled by the 1887 Dawes Act and clearing a pathway for the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. He wanted to seize the opportunity to exploit detained Japanese labor to subjugate the land by digging irrigation ditches, building canals, leveling land, and preparing the land for water. As the reservation had previously been mired in a water rights battle, Collier saw Japanese internment at Poston as a perfect opportunity to turn the reservations’ undeveloped land into a source of economic sustenance. Linked to this project was a “colonization” program, in which neighboring Native nations living on other reservations that were deprived of water would move to Poston. Importantly, the Colorado River Indian Tribes supported neither the internment camps nor the colonization program.47

Long before the decision to release detainees from the camps, Dillon Myers sought to relocate and disperse Japanese detainees out of WRA camps to Eastern states in a similar fashion that occurred in Canada. Although this dispersal plan was never realized for Japanese Americans, when Myers became Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1950, he redirected his plan toward the goal of eliminating Indigenous customs, values, and beliefs. Thus, the colonial logics of dispossession and relocation were continually recycled through the WRA. These were all done under a liberal guise inspired by the New Deal. And as Colleen Lye states, the goals of irrigation and assimilation were embedded in a broader logic of “human conservation.”48 Japanese internment represented the state’s efforts to function as a “protective custodian” of Japanese Americans subject to West Coast terrorism. Their labor would be redirected to revitalize the desolate, arid, and nonproductive locations where internment camps were located. In an effort to euphemize the purpose of camps, the WRA would refer to the Japanese as pioneer communities, “headed for a land that was ‘raw, untamed, and full of opportunity.’”49

As a site of colonial conflation, Poston has become an important site for Japanese American personal and familial excavations of wartime internment, but the presence of Native peoples rarely comes into full view. As Okimoto explains, “Though the Japanese American detainees and the CRIT (Colorado River Indian Tribes) people ‘shared a desert home’ for three years, we lived as strangers during those years, each group struggling with their own issues.”50 The sole exceptions were high school basketball games where Native and Japanese youth faced off. Alternatively, Rea Tajiri’s experimental film memoir History and Memory explores the quandary of having recurring memories of wartime incarceration that she never experienced directly. A Sansei born over a decade after the release of Japanese Americans from camps, she struggles to place these memories, while her mother has forgotten nearly all of her experience of incarceration. While there is no direct identification with Native subjects, her survey of the reservation and the camp ruins signals the force of recursive colonialism. Tajiri emphasizes the poor quality of the barracks, which were made “of this really cheap unseasoned pine and finished [off] with this tar paper.” Later, she explains, “they tried to offer the barracks back to the Native Americans as compensation for the use of the land.”51 From this vantage, Poston becomes a space where the dispossessed and the recipients of government “welfare” confront each other as exchangeable figures of colonial management. A single group photograph of Native mothers and children, entitled “1942, Native American residents, Poston” further accentuates what Grace Kyungwon Hong and Roderick Ferguson call the “strange affinities” between Japanese Americans and prior histories of Indigenous dispossession, expulsion and containment.52

To further draw out the ambivalence of Japanese-Native cross-racial identification, two other texts set in Poston bear some mention: Emiko Omori’s documentary memoir Rabbit in the Moon and Cynthia Kadohata’s young adult novel Weedflower.53 Omori’s film is framed around the curious, sudden death of Omori’s mother soon after their departure from Poston Relocation Center in Arizona. Like Naomi’s absent mother in Obasan, the unmourned death of Omori’s mother sets the stage for the contemporary excavation of generational clashes during wartime incarceration. These communal divisions were exacerbated by the Japanese American Citizens League, whose political encroachments dismantled established community structures. Revealing a sentiment of shared estrangement, Omori’s sister Chizuko illustrates a somber moment of cross-racial identification with the Native American population: “Occasionally Indians would come into the camps. We’d stare at them, they’d stare at us. And you know, there was this really strange kind of feeling, like: You guys are outcasts and we’re outcasts and here we are, in it for the duration.”54 Again, putting this reflection into a broader history in which many WRA camps were constructed on Native American land, including Gila, Heart Mountain, Minidoka, and Poston, Native dispossession is not only a precondition of Japanese internment, but a corollary to it. Later in the documentary Omori describes the debilitating sense of uncertainty that shaped camp life, remarking, “Authorities even began to fear that we would become permanently dependent on government aid, like the Native Americans.”55 Rather than creating a seamless interracial commonality or analogy, the haunting presence of Native Americans in the detention camp brings the specter of coloniality to the fore of Japanese internment.

Cynthia Kadohata’s Weedflower stands out as one of the most direct explorations of the politics of Native-Asian relationality in Poston. Drawing significantly from Ruth Okimoto’s personal account in Sharing a Desert Home, Kadohata’s young adult novel offers a sustained exploration of Japanese-Native relations in the Poston camp. Rather than assume a shared identification between Japanese American and Native characters, the novel reflects the ambivalence of such ties, rendering both the sense of mutual hostility and tentative identification and alliance. The novel brings to life the basketball game that Okimoto makes reference to in her report—a game that ends badly—shedding light on how quickly antagonisms can undo fragile bonds forged in sport. Sumiko, the sixth-grade protagonist, enters into a clandestine friendship with “Frank” Huulus Butler of the Mohave Nation, one of the Nations being relocated to the Colorado River Indian Reservation. As the novel’s organic intellectual, Frank is quick to underscore the vast economic disparities of their respective situations. When Sumiko calls him out for trespassing into the detention camp, he tells her firmly “This is our land.”56 But he also rejects the underlying proprietorial logic of Sumiko’s claim that the land was “unused,” retorting, “You think you have to be using land for it to be worth something?”57 Drawing out the recursive colonial logics that underscore Japanese dispossession and expulsion from the west coast, he tells her pointedly that “you’re not the first to lose things.”58 They build a tenuous, proto-romantic alliance that is mobilized by Frank’s desire to help his impoverished community by gaining knowledge about irrigation. Sumiko facilitates this exchange of knowledge just as the Japanese are released from Poston. The novel ultimately complicates the question of cross-racial identification as Frank’s brothers are among the Native Americans who comprise “the biggest single-event exodus from tribal lands” as they join the Pacific war against the Japanese army—against soldiers who will bear some resemblance to those detained in the Poston camp. Nevertheless, the novel delves into the way colonial logics of dispossession, relocation, and labor exploitation directed at the Japanese bear only a partial and temporary reflection in relation to the colonial logics that structure Native American life.59


The title of this section is borrowed from an essay by scholar, poet, and activist Rita Wong, whose work explores the entangled and fraught cultural histories that frame contemporary Asian-Indigenous relations. While Asian diasporic cultural production is a significant venue for exploring these relations, she warns that “there are no guarantees that cultural representation does not repeat the violence that has already occurred.”60 With this in mind, Wong and other Asian Canadian cultural critics have worked to develop a decolonial criticism that both confronts Asian complicity with the colonization of land and explores ethical modes of relation and solidarity.

Asian-Indigenous relations in British Columbia date back to 1788, predating the construction of the transcontinental railroad by over one hundred years. Upon the arrival of white settlers, the exploitation of Chinese labor by Canadian companies for the broader nation-building project forged a political commitment to a “White Canada Forever.” The biopolitical management of Chinese laborers through the Chinese Head Tax (1885) and the Chinese Exclusion Act (1923) were themselves part of the colonial apparatus that deepened the logics of Native displacement. As Larissa Lai elaborates of the seeming contradiction that emerges in attempts to recover Chinese and Native histories that predate national consolidation, “I fear that even as we do recuperative work to insist on our presence here, we do not always recognize how our actions reinforce the (relatively recent) state and capital in ways that deepen their colonial and neo-colonial relationship with Indigenous peoples.”61 She remarks succinctly that “I am complicit even as I am colonized.”62

Given this fraught history, Asian Canadian cultural production has grappled with the sense of betrayal, shame, and grief over the role that Asian Canadians have played in their relationship with Indigenous peoples. In SKY Lee’s novel Disappearing Moon Café, the plot is set into motion by Gwei Chan and his wife Kelora of the Shi’atko Nation. Kelora had saved him from starvation in the mountains while he was attempting to collect the bones of his fellow Chinese laborers who perished in the construction of the transcontinental railroad. Pressured by a sense of filial obligation to marry Chinese, he abandons Kelora and their unborn child. As the novel moves to Vancouver’s Chinatown, Gwei Chang is cursed with a lifelong sorrow over his loss of Kelora, his true love, and his son’s eventual rejection of him. As Rita Wong proposes, “His failure to sustain such an alliance [with Kelora] gestures not only to individual limits but also to the ways in which oppressive social norms and legislative measures—such as the Immigration Act and the Indian Act—have historically scripted and enforced divisions between First Nations and Asian people in Canada.”63 The representation of such “undeveloped alliances” in Lee’s novel, as well as Paul Lee’s A Superior Man, Hiromi Goto’s Kappa Child, and others, expose the social, economic, and political disparities among Asian and Indigenous contexts and have led to new articulations of migrant-refugee gratitude and indebtedness that reject the affective logics of settler colonial guilt and sorrow. As Malissa Phung clarifies, “prioritizing colonial guilt situates Asian-Indigenous relations within a Eurocentric structure of liberal modes of governance, justice, and sociality that inevitably becomes more about seeking colonial absolution than about addressing the wrongs inflicted upon Indigenous communities.”64

In shifting away from explicit articulations of indebtedness, Asian North American representation also articulates a politics of disidentification with settler colonialism. For instance, Jin-me Yoon’s Group of Sixty-Seven and Tseng Kwong Chi’s Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series offer photographic works that interrogate foundational settler colonial mythologies of landscape.65 As British settler nations whose colonial objective was primarily land appropriation rather than the exploitation of Indigenous labor, national identity in Canada and the United States has often been defined as a product of the landscape. As Angela Miller explains of the US context, the 19th-century landscape encapsulated “the nationalist myth—that the physical environment itself produced national character.”66 Similarly, in the early 20th century in Canada, as Erin Manning suggests, the “quest for national identity [was sought] through the image of the landscape . . . where the unity of states and citizens [was] constructed on the putative ethnic or racial identity of a nation, which, in turn, is anchored to the representation of landscape.”67 Photographing themselves in front of majestic landscapes in Banff National Park, the Grand Canyon, or Mount Rushmore, Tseng and Yoon perform their alien excess as a parody that both recycles the dominant codes associated with the landscape and transforms them with their racial excess. Their photographs prompt a recognition of landscape as both a biopolitical expression of white supremacy and a personification of white male dominion over nature. By highlighting the white settler symbolic attachment to land as a purifying, indigenizing expression of national belonging, Tseng’s and Yoon’s photographs uncover subtexts of romantic anti-capitalism invested in the landscape. Romantic anti-capitalism glorifies nature as wholly removed from the realm of capitalist modernity. It simultaneously constructs Asians as the racialized embodiment of the destructive abstractions of capitalism by associating their bodies with a perverse, unnatural degeneracy. In putting their alien bodies against the nationalist landscape, they expose the way a settler construction of landscape reflects idealized notions of purity and authenticity in defining who is natural.68

Drawing on Edouard Glissant’s writing, Larissa Lai has referred to these decolonial impulses as part of a “poetics of relationality,” one that finds deep expression in First Nations’ cultural production in Canada. A notable example is Coast Salish author Lee Maracle’s short story “Yin Chin,” which is dedicated to Asian Canadian writers SKY Lee and Jim Wong-Chu. The story, whose title is a derogatory Chinese term for “injun,” offers a powerful self-reflection of a childhood scene in a Chinese grocery store with her mother.69 Startled by a Chinese man outside the store and with a mind filled with stereotypes of predatory Chinese men who are rumored to steal and eat children, she blurts out “Chinaman!”—to the embarrassment of her mother and the hurt of the Chinese shopkeeper. As Roy Miki reflects on this moment in the story, “The reinscription and hence reappropriation [in the story’s title] of the racialized equivalent of ‘Chinaman’ refuses the internalizing power of dominant discourses to construct borders between those who are themselves marked as others.”70 Maracle’s broader gesture is to grapple with history and memory of racial complicity and alliance in the spirit of moving beyond internalized beliefs.

Extending a politics of radical relation further is Sahtu Dene Marie Clement’s experimental play Burning Vision.71 The play addresses the role of white and Indigenous workers who mined uranium on Sahtu Dene territory at Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Unbeknown to the laborers was the toxicity of the uranium or that it would be used to construct the atomic bombs the United States dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Alongside the hundreds of thousands who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 was the steep rise of cancer deaths among Dene laborers and their families as a result of exposure to the uranium. The play evokes connection between the Japanese and the Dene as transnational victims of settler colonial nuclear extraction and US imperial violence.

As the postwar context has given way to neoliberal settler colonialism, Asian-Indigenous alliances have become more focused on decolonizing anti-capitalism in the settler state. These alliances oppose a settler colonial value regime that engages in corrupt litigation to incorporate unceded Indigenous lands into state jurisdiction and liberal property regimes. From resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the controversial construction of the Site C Dam in Northern British Columbia, these groups have contested the profit motive of natural resource extraction that comes at the cost of the environment and the people who depend on it. Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists have also been at the forefront of movements to challenge gentrification and urban redevelopment schemes that displace poor people through high-end residential construction, projects that rely on a recursive settler colonial logic. To extend this last point, as Liza Kim Jackson notes, “coloniality is the fuel of gentrification.”72 White settlers originally saw North American land as terra nullius—as empty, wasted, underdeveloped, and belonging to no one—as legal justification to seize it and remove its disorderly and unproductive inhabitants. In the contemporary context, “Neighbourhoods are treated as a new terra nullius—wasted lands ripe for the taking.”73 Under a neoliberal common sense, gentrifiers and developers are seen as creating value by fixing and purifying spaces that are cast as non-productive wastelands and whose inhabitants are considered valueless. As Jackson lays out, “The logic of both the colonial and capitalist productions of space is based on cordoning off of un-aesthetic, non-productive, transgressive (or savage) bodies from the morally sanctified bourgeois colonial body into segregated urban spaces, reservations, residential schools, prisons, asylums, and hospitals.”74 Contesting the racial and colonial determinations of value itself is thus essential for overcoming a neoliberal settler colonial property regime.

Neoliberal settler colonialism serves the narrow interests of corporations and financiers, which in turn legitimates anti-Indigenous and racial state violence, dispossession and disposability, and environmental ruin. Therefore, by fostering cross-racial alliances that center Indigenous relations and the premise of communally held, non-commodified Indigenous lands; resistance to state incorporation and treaties; and resistance to resource extraction—that is, the protection of use values over exchange values—these collectively defy the demands of a settler capitalist value regime. Indigenous economies and social relations disrupt corporate individualism and the profit motive of settler colonial racial capitalism. They represent a powerful model from which to build Native and non-Native alliances for a future beyond settler colonial racial capitalism.

Further Reading

Byrd, Jodi. The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Day, Iyko. Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016.Find this resource:

Francis, Margot. Creative Subversions: Whiteness, Indigeneity, and the National Imaginary. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Fujikane, Candace, and Jonathan Y. Okamura, ed. Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Goldstein, Alyosha, ed. Formations of United States Colonialism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Huhndorf, Shari. Going Native: Indians in the American Cultural Imagination. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001.Find this resource:

Kelley, Robin. “The Rest of US: Rethinking Settler and Native.” American Quarterly 69, no. 2 (2017): 267–276.Find this resource:

Lake, Marilyn, and Henry Reynolds. Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.Find this resource:

Lowe, Lisa. The Intimacies of Four Continents. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Mitchell, W. J. T., ed. Landscape and Power. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.Find this resource:

Morgensen, Scott Laura. Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011.Find this resource:

Razack, Sherene. Race, Space, and the Law: Unmapping a White Settler Society. Toronto: Between the Lines, 2002.Find this resource:

Simpson, Audra. Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Thobani, Sunera. Exalted Subjects: Studies in the Making of Race and Nation in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.Find this resource:

Veracini, Lorenzo. Settler Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.Find this resource:

Wolfe, Patrick. “Land, Labor, and Difference: Elementary Structures of Race.” American Historical Review 106, no. 3 (2001): 866–905.Find this resource:

Young, Robert J. C. Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell, 2001.Find this resource:


(1.) Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008).

(2.) Lake and Reynolds, Global Colour Line, 3.

(3.) Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color: Against White World Supremacy (New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1923), 315.

(4.) Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Okamura, eds. Amerasia Journal 26.2 (2000).

(5.) Iyko Day, “Must All Asianness Be American?: The Census, Racial Classification, and Asian Canadian Emergence,” Canadian Literature 199 (2008): 45–70.

(6.) Anne McClintock, “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Post-Colonialism’,” Social Text 31–32 (1992): 84–98.

(7.) Patrick Wolfe, “Land, Labor, and Difference: Elementary Structures of Race,” The American Historical Review 106, no. 3 (2001): 866–905.

(8.) Robin Kelley, “The Rest of US: Rethinking Settler and Native,” American Quarterly 69, no. 2 (2017): 269.

(9.) Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 20.

(10.) Dean Saranillio, “Why Asian Settler Colonialism Matters,” Settler Colonial Studies 2, no. 3–4 (2013): 286.

(11.) Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event (London: Cassell, 1999), 2.

(12.) Jodi A. Byrd, The Transit of Empire: Indigenous Critiques of Colonialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); Laura Pulido and David Lloyd, “In the Long Shadow of the Settler: On Israeli and US Colonialisms,” American Quarterly 62, no. 4 (2010): 795–809; Malissa Phung, “Asian-Indigenous Relationalities: Literary Gestures of Respect and Gratitude,” Canadian Literature 227 (2015): 56–72; and Iyko Day, Alien Capital: Asian Racialization and the Logic of Settler Colonial Capitalism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016).

(13.) Iyko Day, “Being or Nothingness: Indigeneity, Antiblackness, and Settler Colonial Critique,” Critical Ethnic Studies 1, no. 2 (2015): 102–121.

(14.) Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Studies 8 (2006): 387.

(15.) Manu Vimalassery, Juliana Hu Pegues, and Alyosha Goldstein, “On Colonial Unknowing,” Theory and Event 20, no. 4 (2017): n.p.

(16.) Vimalassery, Hu Pegues, and Goldstein, “Colonial Unknowing,” 6.

(17.) Jean M. O’Brien, “Tracing Settler Colonialism’s Eliminatory Logic in Traces of History,” American Quarterly 69, no. 2 (2017): 251.

(18.) O’Brien, “Tracing Settler Colonialism’s,” 251; and O’Brien is quoting J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, “A Structure, Not an Event: Settler Colonialism and Enduring Indigeneity,” Lateral: Journal of the Cultural Studies Association 5, no. 1 (2016): 2.

(19.) Vimalassery, Hu Pegues, and Goldstein, “Colonial Unknowing.”

(20.) Paul Skenazy and Tera Martin, “Talk with Mrs. Kingston: Timothy Pfaff/1980,” Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 1988), 14, italics added.

(21.) Maxine Hong Kingston, China Men (New York, NY: Knopf, 1980), 52. Kingston offers several possible versions of her father’s US arrival.

(22.) Sau-ling Wong, “Denationalization Reconsidered: Asian American Cultural Criticism at a Theoretical Crossroads,” Amerasia Journal 21, no. 1–2 (1995): 3–4.

(23.) Kingston, China Men, 144.

(24.) Sau-ling Wong, Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 146.

(25.) Frank Chin, “Riding the Rails with Chickencoop Slim,” Greenfield Review 6, no. 1–2 (1977): 80–89; Frank Chin, The Chickencoop Chinaman and the Year of the Dragon: Two Plays by Frank Chin (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981); and Daniel Y. Kim, Writing Manhood in Black and Yellow: Ralph Ellison, Frank Chin and the Literary Politics of Identity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005), 201.

(26.) Kim, Writing Manhood, 171; and David Eng, Racial Castration: Managing Masculinity in Asian America (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001).

(27.) Chin, “Riding the Rails,” 82; and Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge, 1993).

(28.) Joy Kogawa, Obasan (New York: Anchor Books, 1994).

(29.) Kogawa, Obasan, 3.

(30.) Kogawa, Obasan, 169.

(31.) Kogawa, Obasan, 9.

(32.) Kogawa, Obasan, 3.

(33.) Marie Lo, “Passing Recognition: Obasan and the Borders of Asian American and Canadian Literary Criticism,” Comparative American Studies 5, no. 3 (2007): 320, 318.

(34.) Lo, “Passing Recognition,” 325; and Kogawa, Obasan, 48.

(35.) Lo, “Passing Recognition,” 325.

(36.) Candace Fujikane, “Introduction: Asian Settler Colonialism in the US Colony of Hawai‘i,” in Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i, ed. Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 27.

(37.) R. Zamora Linmark, Rolling the R’s (New York, NY: Kaya Press, 1995); and Hawaiian missionary schools were the colonial model for US Native boarding schools and African American vocational schools, imported to the United States by Samuel Armstrong. See Gary Okihiro, Island World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).

(38.) Ku’ualoha Ho’omanawanui, “This Land is Your Land, This Land Was My Land,” in Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawai‘i, ed. Candace Fujikane and Jonathan Y. Okamura (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008), 139.

(39.) Byrd, Transit of Empire, 187.

(40.) Karen L. Ishizuka, Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006), 147.

(41.) Ishizuka, Lost and Found, 148.

(42.) Ishizuka, Lost and Found, 148.

(43.) Gregory Robinson, A Tragedy of Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 184.

(44.) Mona Oikawa, “Connecting the Internment of Japanese Canadians to the Colonization of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada,” in Aboriginal Connections to Race, Environment and Traditions, ed. Rick Riewe and Jill Oakes (Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2006), 21.

(45.) Ruth Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home: Life on the Colorado River Indian Reservation, Poston, Arizona, 1942–1945; and A Special Report of News from Native California (Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2001), 5.

(46.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 5.

(47.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 9.

(48.) Colleen Lye, America’s Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893–1945 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).

(49.) Floyd Cheung, “Reclaiming Mobility: Japanese American Travel Writing after the Internment,” Studies in Travel Writing 12, no. 2 (2008): 141.

(50.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 23.

(51.) Rea Tajiri, dir. History and Memory: For Akiko and Takashige (Women Make Movies, 1991); and Tajiri, History and Memory.

(52.) Grace Kyungwon Hong and Roderick A. Ferguson, eds., Strange Affinities: The Gender and Sexual Politics of Comparative Racialization (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).

(53.) Cynthia Kadohata, Weedflower (New York, NY: Antheneum Books, 2006); and Emiko Omori, dir. Rabbit in the Moon (Wabi-Sabi, 1999).

(54.) Omori, Rabbit in the Moon.

(55.) Omori, Rabbit in the Moon.

(56.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 158.

(57.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 158.

(58.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 160.

(59.) Okimoto, Sharing a Desert Home, 260.

(60.) Rita Wong, “Decolonizasian: Reading Asian and First Nations Relations in Literature,” Canadian Literature 199 (2008); and Wong, “Decolonizasian,” 160.

(61.) Larissa Lai, “Epistemologies of Respect: A Poetics of Asian/Indigenous Relation,” in Critical Collaborations: Indigeneity, Diaspora, and Ecology in Canadian Literary Studies, ed. Smaro Kamboureli (Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2013), 100.

(62.) Lai, “Epistemologies of Respect,” 100.

(63.) SKY Lee, Disappearing Moon Café (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1990); and Wong, “Decolonizasian,” 163.

(64.) Paul Lee, A Superior Man (Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2015); and Phung, “Asian-Indigenous Relationalities,” 66.

(65.) Jin-me Yoon, Group of Sixty-Seven (Vancouver: Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, 1996); and Tseng Kwong Chi, East Meets West, a.k.a. The Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series 1979–1989 (New York, NY: Muna Tseng Dance Projects, Inc.)

(66.) Patrick Wolfe, “Land, Labor, and Difference: Elementary Structures of Race,” American Historical Review 106, no. 3 (2001): 868; and Angela Miller, Empire of the Eye (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993), 109.

(67.) Erin Manning, Ephemeral Territories: Representing Nation, Home, and Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), 7.

(68.) Iyko Day, “Tseng Kwong Chi and the Eugenic Landscape,” American Quarterly 64, no. 5 (2013): 91–118.

(69.) Lee Maracle, “Yin Chin” in An Anthology of Canadian Native Literature in English, ed. Daniel David Moses and Terry Goldie (Toronto: Oxford UP, 1998): 290–294.

(70.) Roy Miki, “Global Drift: Thinking the Beyond of Identity Politics,” Canadian Literature 199 (2008): 155.

(71.) Marie Clements, Burning Vision (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2003). See Lai, “Epistemologies of Respect,” and Wong, “Decolonizasian,” for further critical analyses of Clements’s play.

(72.) Liza Kim Jackson, “The Complications of Colonialism for Gentrification Theory and Marxist Geography,” Journal of Law and Social Policy 27, no. 4 (2017): 68.

(73.) Jackson, “Complications of Colonialism,” 63.

(74.) Jackson, “Complications of Colonialism,” 68.