Book Talk: Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867–1945
Wednesday, October 19 | 12:30 pm | 223 Moses | RSVP here
Andrea Geiger will discuss her new book, Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867–1945 (University of North Carolina Press, 2022). Making a vital contribution to our understanding of North American borderlands history through its examination of the northernmost stretches of the U.S.-Canada border, the book highlights the role that the North Pacific borderlands played in the construction of race and citizenship on both sides of the international border from 1867, when the United States acquired Russia’s interests in Alaska, through the end of World War II. Imperial, national, provincial, territorial, reserve, and municipal borders worked together to create a dynamic legal landscape that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people negotiated in myriad ways as they traversed these borderlands. Adventurers, prospectors, laborers, and settlers from Europe, Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Asia made and remade themselves as they crossed from one jurisdiction to another.
Within this broader framework, Geiger pays particular attention to the ways in which Japanese migrants and the Indigenous people who had made this borderlands region their home for millennia negotiated the web of intersecting boundaries that emerged over time, charting the ways in which they infused these reconfigured national, provincial, and territorial spaces with new meanings. To see the North Pacific borderlands only as a remote outpost that marked the westernmost edges of the U.S. or British empire, is to miss not only the central place it occupied in the lives of the Indigenous peoples whose home it continues to be, but the extent to which it functioned, in the eyes of Japanese entrepreneurs, as an economic hinterland for an expanding Japanese empire, as well as the role it played in shaping wartime policy with regard to citizens and subjects of Japanese ancestry in both Canada and the United States.
Andrea Geiger is professor emerita of history at Simon Fraser University. Her research interests include transpacific and borderlands history, race, migration, and legal history. She received a J.D. and Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington, and is the author of the award-winning Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste, and Borders, 1885–1928.
This event is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative (BIMI), the Center for Race and Gender, and the Department of History.