New Women of Empire: Gendered Politics and Racial Uplift in Interwar Japanese America by Chrissy Yee Lau is a welcome addition to our understanding of the history of Japanese American migration, focusing on how Nisei women worked to redefine gender roles even as they were subject to racism, misogyny, and xenophobic immigration policies. While transnational approaches to history have all but become the norm, New Women of Empire is a welcome addition to transimperial history, situating this diasporic community amidst the rise of both Japanese and American imperialism. As such, Lau is able to unearth many surprising and unexpected ways in which the ideologies buttressing these two empires—seemingly at odds—indeed overlapped.

Chapter 1 covers how Japanese American women’s gender roles in rural Southern California were defined within competing discourses shaped by anti-Japanese immigration activists, U.S. Protestant activism, and even Japanese imperial ideologies. Chapters 2 and 3 address how...

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