Regrettable Incidents: The Historical Foundations of Japanese Stereotypes in World War II

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Arts and Humanities | History


David Bennetts, History


My paper will examine the negative stereotype of the Japanese that saturated the American mass media during World War II and its complicated historical bases. Beginning with the first Japanese immigrants to America, external forces such as economic depression, the lingering effects of an anti-Chinese movement, and the Russo-Japanese War created a volatile formula for discrimination against the Japanese. By utilizing census data, newspaper editorials, race theories and elements of popular culture during the early 20th century, I will attempt to illuminate the development of stereotypes that eventually found full exposure after the Pearl Harbor attack. My thesis will address the complex and often misunderstood nature of racism against the Japanese and will hopefully speak to the historical trends of intolerance towards people of other races in America today.