Society for Urban, National and Transnational/Global Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Mary Hanneman (University of Washington Tacoma)
Through a discussion of subject formation for second generation Japanese Americans (Nisei), this paper considers how daily lives on city streets, in public schools, and at the city’s only Japanese Language School were fundamentally spatialized processes. In addition, the paper acknowledges the important ways in which these very pre-WWII urban spaces were also transnational. Based on interviews with over 40 Nisei who were residents of Tacoma, Washington prior to WWII, this paper thus examines the intersections of spatiality, subjectivity, and transnationalism. The community was primarily, but not exclusively, concentrated in a centralized area in downtown Tacoma, creating walking scale daily lives for many. Nisei children were expected to attend the Japanese Language School every day after American school, such that this building became an important place for the negotiation of identity. And yet, these were not simply localized, spatial experiences of navigating multiple positionalities in the city, but were also necessarily embedded in transnational relations and exchanges of ideas, people, and goods. What anthropological tools are available to explain the simultaneously situated and transnational processes of subject formation in pre-war, urban America? What, in other words, might anthropology offer urban studies and urban historians on these questions?