Cover for MASTERSON: The Japanese in Latin America. Click for larger image

The Japanese in Latin America

Awards and Recognition:

A CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2005.

This book chronicles the experience of the first Japanese immigrants and their descendents in Latin America during the past century particularly emphasizing their struggle to adapt to their new homelands while retaining strong ties to their cultural heritage.

Japanese migration to Latin America began in the late nineteenth century, and today the continent is home to 1.5 million persons of Japanese descent. Combining detailed scholarship with rich personal histories, The Japanese in Latin America is the first comprehensive study of the patterns of Japanese migration on the continent as a whole.

When the United States and Canada tightened their immigration restrictions in 1907, Japanese contract laborers began to arrive in mines and plantations in Latin America. Daniel M. Masterson, with the assistance of Sayaka Funada-Classen, examines Japanese agricultural colonies in Latin America, as well as the subsequent cultural networks that sprang up within and among them, and the changes that occurred as the Japanese moved from wage labor to ownership of farms and small businesses. Masterson also explores recent economic crises in Brazil, Argentina, and Peru, which combined with a strong Japanese economy to cause at least a quarter million Latin American Japanese to migrate back to Japan.

Illuminating authoritative research with extensive interviews with migrants and their families, The Japanese in Latin America examines the dilemma of immigrants who maintained strong allegiances to their Japanese roots, even while they struggled to build lives in their new countries.

"This highly readable and solidly researched book is a welcome addition to the Asian American Experience series. . . . Its global dimension and emphasis on ethnic adaptation make it an important contribution to all disciplines concerned with comparative immigration."--American Historical Review

"The Japanese in Latin America . . . provide[s] a fine overview of the story of Japanese migration and the creation of Nikkei ethnicity in Latin America. Working with secondary sources based on national experiences, as well as primary sources and oral histories, Masterson and Funada-Classen navigate between temporal and regional specificities and broad patterns."--The Americas

"The Japanese in Latin America provides a wealth of information, in addition to an articulate analysis and systematic comparisons, on a subject that has received scant attention in migration scholarship. But what also makes this scholarly publication especially valuable is that it presents historical comparisons at distinct points with the Japanese immigration to the United States."--Latin American Politics and Society

"A first-rate piece of scholarship. It provides an invaluable overview of the history of the Japanese on the continent, with extraordinary richness of detail throughout."--Samuel L. Baily, author of Immigrants in the Lands of Promise

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