Printer Friendly

Guest editor's introduction: border crossings and color bars in a globalizing world, 1890s-1910s.

The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries remain a fascinating moment in modern world history. It was an age of empire, to be sure, but it was more. As Tony Ballantyne and Antoinette Burton among others have argued, imperial projects contributed to global integration yet the processes of globalization outstripped the hierarchies of empire. Thus it was a conjuncture of spreading networks, growing unrest, and emerging alternatives as well as a series of conquests and "openings," alliances and clashes among rising and declining great powers.

Our forum features three essays that explore some of the possibilities of this globalizing world, a world in which color bars could impede but not completely prevent the border crossings of either people or ideas. Ranging across the Pacific world, the essays connect the U.S., China, Japan, the Philippines, and Mexico and follow some intriguing protagonists. We are grateful to the authors for contributing these tantalizing pieces from their larger current projects.

Sungshin Kim and Kurt Guldentops's "Leveraging the China Market: Wu Tingfang's Case Against Chinese Exclusion" departs from the strict imperialist/nationalist binary in considering relations between China and the U.S. in the late Qing period. Highly educated, well-traveled, and experienced in business as well as law and diplomacy, the Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Wu Tingfang was cosmopolitan and liberal in outlook. His argument against Chinese exclusion not only highlighted its illiberal breach of the norms of relations between states but also foregrounded its detrimental impact on U.S. exports. Even though his appeal to American self-interest ultimately failed, Wu demonstrated a strategic grasp of the problems and opportunities of the world-system in which both China and the U.S. maneuvered and, more broadly, a dynamic engagement with modernity as a global, not simply occidental, condition.

Masako N. Racel's "Inui Kiyosue: A Japanese Peace Advocate in the Age of 'Yellow Peril'" introduces the remarkable story of a Japanese student-turned-teacher, his American sojourn, and his world tour in the years bracketed by the Russo-Japanese War and the 1924 Johnson-Reed Act. Along the way we learn about transnational connections between the U.S. and Japanese peace movements and Inui's efforts to reduce tensions and promote understanding between Japan and the U.S. by emphasizing the positive impact of Japanese immigration. We also glimpse the contradictory qualities of Inui's (and his wife Minnie's) everyday and intimate life in a time of racial marginalization and exclusion.

Shannon Bontrager's "Black Bodies, White Borders: Mapping the Color Line Inside and Outside the United States, 1902-1916" examines the place-based rhetoric of nation and empire in the case of the American occupation of the Philippines and the two interventions in Mexico. While the deaths of soldiers, sailors, and marines abroad opened up the political question of U.S. involvement in seemingly foreign countries and conflicts, they could lead to patriotic commemorations that obscured the colonial and semi-colonial locations of these losses and elided American stakes in empire. Given the Wilson administration's pro-segregationist policy and the popular resurgence of white supremacist politics in the U.S., the deaths of black soldiers, like those at the battle of Carrizal in Mexico in 1916, complicated matters. W.E.B. Du Bois's interventions show the limits as well as insights of black radical criticism of a color line that extended across the American empire and its borderlands.

These essays converge around a world seemingly subdued and restructured by "the West" yet whose newly established racial and civilizational order was always already contested. Colonial subjects, people of color, and indigenous people offered multiple challenges, from asserting their right to difference to demanding inclusion and equality. Some of these challenges came from intellectuals and movements, some from modernizing or revolutionized states. Beckoning us to their essays' shared vantage point, Kim and Guldentops, Racel, and Bontrager reveal a striking vista of changing global imaginaries, of the ways people imagined their world, their place in it, and their power to shift and shape it.

Ian Christopher Fletcher, Georgia State University
COPYRIGHT 2015 The World History Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2015 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Special Section: Border Crossings and Color Bars
Author:Fletcher, Ian Christopher
Publication:World History Bulletin
Article Type:Guest commentary
Date:Sep 22, 2015
Previous Article:Letter from the President of the World History Association.
Next Article:Leveraging the China market: Wu Tingfang's case against Chinese exclusion.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters