Graduation Year

2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Foreign Languages

Reader 1

Cesar Lopez

Reader 2

Jennifer Wood

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2013 Nina Pincus

Abstract

Over the past century, the Japanese community in Peru has grown to be the second largest in South America. Their arrival and subsequent success in small businesses posed a threat to the Peruvian attempt to “whiten” their population. Because of this, racial conflicts arose between the Japanese and Peruvians, leading to the widespread “Yellow Peril” epidemic. Anti-Japanese sentiments caused immigration reduction laws and in the years leading up to WWII, tensions grew. During this time, the Japanese community remained ethnically close, maintaining transnational ties with Japan. This changed after the war, when their sojourner mentality changed to the permanence of Peru as a home. The community slowly built up to where they are today as a respected ethnic minority. They were able to do so because of the creation of a new pan-ethnic identity, Nikkei. This new identity allowed the Japanese population to adopt certain aspects of both their Japanese and Peruvian identities, both which at this point were becoming problematic to represent who they were. Identity formation of immigrants is a complicated process in which identities of the new country clash with lasting identities from their home country. The Nikkei identity allows for the Japanese to still maintain certain ties with Japan, yet not be constrained to being totally Japanese. During the process of assimilation into Peruvian society, the Japanese have come to rely on their new Nikkei identity as a way to distinguish themselves within Peruvian society, while at the same time resisting exclusion and marginalization.