Chris SuhJun 3, 2023
The Allure of Empire
American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion
Oxford University Press 2023
The Allure of Empire: American Encounters with Asians in the Age of Transpacific Expansion and Exclusion (Oxford UP, 2023) traces how American ideas about race in the Pacific were made and remade on the imperial stage before World War II. Following the Russo-Japanese War, the United States cultivated an amicable relationship with Japan based on the belief that it was a "progressive" empire akin to its own. Even as the two nations competed for influence in Asia and clashed over immigration issues in the American West, the mutual respect for empire sustained their transpacific cooperation until Pearl Harbor, when both sides disavowed their history of collaboration and cast each other as incompatible enemies.
In recovering this lost history, Chris Suh reveals the surprising extent to which debates about Korea shaped the politics of interracial cooperation. American recognition of Japan as a suitable partner depended in part on a positive assessment of its colonial rule of Korea. It was not until news of Japan's violent suppression of Koreans soured this perception that the exclusion of Japanese immigrants became possible in the United States. Central to these shifts in opinion was the cooperation of various Asian elites aspiring to inclusion in a "progressive" American empire. By examining how Korean, Japanese, and other nonwhite groups appealed to the United States, this book demonstrates that the imperial order sustained itself through a particular form of interracial collaboration that did not disturb the existing racial hierarchy.
Byung Ho Choi is a Ph.D. candidate in the History and Ecumenics program at Princeton Theological Seminary, concentrating in World Christianity and history of religions. His research focuses on the indigenous expressions of Christianities found in Southeast Asia, particularly Christianity that is practiced in the Muslim-dominant archipelagic nation of Indonesia. More broadly, he is interested in history and the anthropology of Christianity, complexities of religious conversion and social identity, inter-religious dialogue, ecumenism, and World Christianity.
Chanhee Heo is a Ph.D. candidate in American Religions and a Ph.D. minor in the Department of History at Stanford University. Her research interests include late 19th and early 20th -century transpacific religious history with a focus on race and immigration. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post and the anthology, Migration and Diaspora, from SBL Press.