Journal of Asian American Studies 7.2 (2004) 180-181
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Social Science Book Awardee
Joshua Hotaka Roth's Brokered Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Migrants in Japan is an elegant and parsimonious ethnography of Asian Americans - specifically Japanese Brazilians - who find their way to Japan working in the blue-collar sector. Having carefully sketched the political economic structures conditioning this particular migration of co-ethnics, Roth introduces us to the banal (e.g., the factory [End Page 178] line), the terror (e.g., severed limbs), and the play (e.g., a kite festival) of their lives. We do get to know "individuals," but we are given the contextual information with which to appreciate them as persons conditioned by a complex web of economic, political, and cultural circumstances. Most startling about this work is the quiet way in which it at once renders these Asian Americans and Japan anew. Perhaps most striking of Roth's discoveries are the quotidian alliances of blue-collar Japanese workers and their Japanese Brazilian co-workers. It is, importantly, along class lines, that cultural divides fray - quite contrary to received ideas of the working class in Japan. In this way, Brokered Homeland makes us attentive to the ways in which transnational spaces are so powerfully mediated by class. The work is tremendously rich for thinking about Asian American subjectivity and the constitution of Asian American "community." More specifically, Brokered Homeland challenges us to consider what it means to think beyond the territory of the United States, North America, and the Americas.