The Ties that Bind: Networks of Prewar Japanese Migration from the Tohoku Region to Canada and the Philippines

The Ateneo Center for Asian Studies and the History Department
cordially  invite you to a talk on


The Ties that Bind:  Networks of Prewar Japanese Migration from the Tohoku Region to Canada and the Philippines

by Anne giblin

December 15, 2010 (Wednesday), 4:30 - 6:00 P.M.
SEC C, Room 201



The northeastern region of Japan, known as Tohoku, is mythologized even now as an agrarian, provincial backwater 'hermetically sealed off from the rest of the nation and world.  However, thousands of emigrants from this region ventured forth during the prewar period to populate the northern frontier of Hokkaido, "plant the flag" of Japan in colonial possessions, and seek their fortunes in foreign lands.  This talk will present the preliminary findings of two years of research on circuits of migration from this understudied Japanese region.  Social networks between emigres and their friends back home resulted in a blossoming of transnational linkages which bound Tohoku to places as disparate as Canada and Brazil, Karafuto and the Philippines.  To offer a glimpse into the multifaceted and complex kinds of migration seen throughout the prewar period, this talk will focus on two cases of international population movement occurring on opposite sides of the Pacific: sanctioned agricultural migration to Davao, Philippines, and illegal migration to the fisheries of Vancouver, Canada.  While the cases may appear to differ drastically in shape and form, they share the roots of the Tohoku region.  This focus on the far-flung diaspora of people from Tohoku will problematize nation-state centric histories, showing how rural and marginalized Japanese subjects could extend social networks to places as diverse as Canada and the Philippines without the direct assistance of the government in Tokyo.


Anne Giblin is a PhD Candidate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison studying modern Japanese history.  Her dissertation is tentatively titled "From the Inside-out: Social Networks of Migration from the Tohoku Region, 1880-1937."  She spent last year conducting dissertation research in Tokyo, Sendai, Fukushima, and Akita under the auspices of a Japan Foundation Dissertation Fellowship.  She is currently residing in Manila, exploring linkages between Davao and Fukushima prefecture during the prewar period.