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Hawai'i at the crossroads of the U.S. and Japan before the Pacific War : [book review] Petersen, Glenn Oct 14, 2011

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621 Book Reviews on the concept of fa’aSamoa (“the Samoan way,” or behaving according to Samoan precepts). By the end of this chapter, the reader will better understand how fa’afafine may incorporate aspects of masculine behaviour at times, or feminine behaviour at other times, while avoiding some of the restrictive aspects of each role. In this chapter, and throughout the volume, Schmidt spends some time in exploring ideas about fa’afafine sexuality. This is viewed differently in Samoa than in many of the nations to which Samoans immigrate, including New Zealand. For example, in Auckland, men having sex with men are typically understood as being gay, and engaging in homosexual acts, while in Samoa, fa’afafine are treated as women in many contexts. This means that men’s sexual activities with fa’afafine fit within the realm of heterosexual activities, rather than being glossed as homosexual. Of course, some of these ideas are changing in Samoa, and this is covered in chapter 4, which also highlights differences between rural and urban life. Fa’afafine living in Apia, the capital, may outfit themselves in a more feminine manner, rather than merely behaving as women, which is more typical of remote regions. A major focus of Schmidt’s research is to examine the immigration experiences of fa’afafine, which are covered in the final four chapters of the book. In chapter 5, she considers her research participants’ accounts, and how they identify and present themselves in New Zealand. To make sense of these narratives, Schmidt suggests that fa’afafine utilize two broad immigration strategies. She differentiates them as the “gay fa’afafine men and passing fa’afafine women” group (121) versus the “re(claiming) fa’afafine identities” model (157), although recognizing the variability in her sample, and people’s abilities to use different strategies at different times. In conclusion, Schmidt’s book is a useful contribution to Pacific scholarship, and should be well received by the readers of this journal. It also seems likely that fa’afafine will appreciate her empathetic portrayal of their lives. University of Hawai’i at MƗnoa, Honolulu, USA SUSAN J. WURTZBURG HAWAI’I AT THE CROSSROADS OF THE U.S. AND JAPAN BEFORE THE PACIFIC WAR. Editor: Jon Thanes Davidann. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008. vi, 246 pp. (Tables, illus.) US$49.00, cloth. ISBN 978- 0-8248-3225-4. This is an unusually cohesive set of tightly interlocked essays dealing with two related themes, Hawai’i’s place in United States-Japanese relations in the years between the two World Wars and the status of Japanese immigrants in the islands during the same period. In the sense that the title draws attention Pacific Affairs: Volume 84, No. 3 – September 2011 622 to the “Pacific War” it is somewhat misleading, since the overwhelming focus of these essays is on the 1910s and 1920s and little attention is paid to the escalating tensions that lead to the outbreak of war between the two nations in December 1941. On the whole, however, this does not detract from the work’s impact. A series of key issues are woven through most of the pieces. While there is a degree of redundancy, precisely because the essays are so tightly focused, this is a very minor drawback; indeed most of these pieces stand on their own and contain enough context to be assigned as individual readings in courses on international relations, labour history, immigration history, ethnic relations and Hawai’ian history. The themes receiving the greatest attention are the founding and early years of Honolulu’s Institute of Pacific Relations; the differing trajectories of the Japanese Buddhist and Christian churches in Hawaii, with particular reference to their respective roles in plantation labour disputes; Japanese-Americans’ multiple perspectives on the most effective ways to deal with white (haole) hostilities toward them; and the rise and tribulations of Japanese-language schools. Running through nearly every piece is the background noise of growing mainstream American opposition to both immigration in general and the Japanese in particular. It is always salutary to be reminded of the venomous hostility once directed at what is now touted as a “model minority.” The Issei (first-generation) and Nisei (second-generation) population in Hawai’i was deeply conscious of discriminatory legislation and activities in California and struggled at length with a crucial strategic choice, whether to respond in ways intended to placate hostility toward them or to take positive strides to counteract similar developments in Hawaii. They were at the same time debating the relative degrees to which they should embrace American culture and citizenship while remaining loyal to the Japanese state and its culture. Two leaders in particular guided these different approaches, Okumura Takie, spearhead of the Japanese Christian community, and Imamura Yemyo, head of the predominant Buddhist sect. As several of these essays make clear, each worked tirelessly, adapted to changing circumstances, and pursued nuanced, not entirely consistent policies. While the level of detail here should appeal to specialists, my sense is that these essays have the potential to inform a much wider audience, given some of the striking parallels with present-day issues in the US. One of these lies with what sloganeers have been calling “anchor babies,” children born in the US to non-citizens. The American constitution confers citizenship upon these babies and there have been recent attempts to introduce legislation depriving them of citizenship. Attempts were made in the 1920s to do precisely this to the American-born children of Japanese immigrants, without success. In the same vein, the era saw legislation enacted to curtail the teaching of Japanese to immigrants’ children, an earlier precursor of today’s English-only legislation and opposition to Islamic-themed education. 623 Book Reviews Other interesting contrasts and parallels might be drawn between Yemyo’s ideas about Buddhism and democracy and what in recent years has been referred to as the role of “Asian values” in East Asian political and economic development, and fears about the “repaganization” of Hawai’i by Buddhists (196) and modern-day American fears about Islam. One of the most penetrating essays is Mariko Takagi-Kitayama’s “The Strong Wind of the Americanization Movement,” describing the territorial legislature’s attempt to shut down the Japanese-language schools. For those who fought to preserve their schools, “the litigation meant ‘fighting for their right,’ and that was their understanding of the American way. In their view, by filing the case, Japanese immigrants demonstrated their ‘Americanness’ and assumed that white Americans in Hawai’i would stop despising the Japanese and using ‘illegal’ pressures” (225). Going literally door-to-door to beg pennies for legal costs, these stalwarts fought all the way to the US Supreme Court and prevailed, thus raising the bar for future generations. In that the title does refer to World War II, it would have enhanced the accounts here if they had at least foreshadowed the eagerness with which many of Hawai’i’s Nisei enlisted in the army and fought with distinction in some of its bloodiest battles. And the work would have benefited as well from at least some reference to the efforts of Chinese religious groups to grapple with these same issues. But these are minor cavils in the face of an altogether excellent body of work. City University of New York, New York, USA GLENN PETERSEN


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