This article argues that the conditions of Japanese immigrants' lives in rural California produced unstable gender relations and patterns of intra-ethnic conflict. Early twentieth-century inquest records of the Santa Clara County coroner reveal tensions stemming from gender imbalance, exacerbated by the difficulties of farm life, racial marginalization, and circumscribed economic opportunity. Immigrant men equated success in America and status among their compatriots with being economically viable farmers and supporting a family in America; some who could not achieve these goals resorted to violent behavior. Meanwhile, Japanese women encountered new options and freedoms in a predominantly male immigrant society but also found themselves battling new forms of aggression from their countrymen. The volatility of gender relations in this Japanese community highlights the disruptive effects of migration, as well as the process through which immigrant men and women negotiated new lives and identities in America.
Sex, Lies, and Agriculture: Reconstructing Japanese Immigrant Gender Relations in Rural California, 1900–1913
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Cecilia M. Tsu; Sex, Lies, and Agriculture: Reconstructing Japanese Immigrant Gender Relations in Rural California, 1900–1913. Pacific Historical Review 1 May 2009; 78 (2): 171–209. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2009.78.2.171
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