'I'm American, not Japanese!': The struggle for racial citizenship among later-generation Japanese Americans

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As one of the oldest Asian American groups in the USA, most Japanese Americans are of the third and fourth generations and have become well integrated in mainstream American society. However, they are still racialized as foreigners simply because of their Asian appearance. Their Asian phenotype continues to have a foreigner connotation because of large-scale immigration from Asia and an American national identity that is racially defined as white. This paper analyses how later-generation Japanese Americans are racialized as outsiders in their daily interaction with mainstream Americans, which is often accompanied by essentialized assumptions that they are also culturally foreign. In response, they engage in everyday struggles for racial citizenship by demanding inclusion in the national community as Americans despite their racial differences. It is uncertain whether such attempts to contest their racialization will cause current mono-racial notions of American identity to be reconsidered in more inclusive and multiracial ways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-424
Number of pages20
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014



  • Asian Americans
  • ethnic minorities
  • Japanese Americans
  • racial citizenship
  • racialization
  • social citizenship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Anthropology

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