Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867–1945
Converging Empires examines the role the North Pacific borderlands played in the construction of race and citizenship, from 1867, when the United States acquired Russia’s interests in Alaska, through to 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 crossed from one jurisdiction to another, on both sides of the British Columbia–Alaska border, adventurers, prospectors, laborers, and settlers from Europe, Canada, the United States, Latin America, and Asia made and remade themselves.
Andrea Geiger pays particular attention to the ways in which Japanese migrants and the Indigenous people—Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian, among others—who have made this region their home for millennia, negotiated the web of intersecting boundaries that emerged over time, charting the ways they infused these reconfigured national, provincial, and territorial spaces with new meanings.
Through its examination of the northernmost stretches of the Canada–U.S. border, this book makes a vital contribution to our understanding of North American borderlands history.
From the meeting of Indigenous communities and Japanese migrants to the expulsion of Japanese workers along the U.S.-Canada border to the maritime encounters among fishers at sea, Converging Empires is a tour of borderland creation, reformation, and consequence. A lively and essential borderlands read.
Converging Empires does a wonderful job showcasing how disparate stories – Indigenous labour and resistance, Japanese immigration, and colonial expansion – intersected to create a new social world along the Pacific coast.
As a history, Geiger’s work is equally complex, categorical, and deeply atmospheric; she does her subjects historical justice.
This sophisticated and surprising history uses the convergence of Indigenous peoples and Japanese immigrants in the colonial empires of the Northern Pacific to reveal the power—and limits—of law in creating racialized categories of immigrant and indigene. A model of how to write history.
This is the first sustained exploration of the history of this important borderland, and Geiger is one of the few historians who can pull off such a study. She shows how and why this history matters.
1 The Shifting Borderlands of the North Pacific Coast
2 Immigrant and Indigene
3 Encounters with Law and Lawless Encounters
4 Borders at Sea
5 The Pacific Borderlands in Wartime
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