Today, Brazil has the largest community of Japanese descent in the world while Japan currently is home to about 200,000 Brazilians. Cities like São Paulo claim huge populations of Syrian, Lebanese, Italian, and Portuguese descent. The millions of immigrants who settled in Brazil helped to create ideas about ethnicity, foreignness and national identity, all within a historical context of slavery, that are often distinct from other countries in the Americas. This presentation will analyze the role of Japanese-Brazilians in creating new forms of multiculturalism in both Brazil and Japan.
Jeffrey Lesser is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Latin American History and Chair of the History Department at Emory University. His newest book is Immigration, Ethnicity and National Identity in Brazil (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2012). He is also the author of A Discontented Diaspora: Japanese-Brazilians and the Meanings of Ethnic Militancy, 1960-1980 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007), winner of the Roberto Reis Prize (Honorable Mention) from the Brazilian Studies Association; Negotiating National Identity: Minorities, Immigrants and the Struggle for Ethnicity in Brazil (Duke University Press, 1999), winner of the Best Book Prize from the Brazil Section of the Latin American Studies Association, and Welcoming the Undesirables: Brazil and the Jewish Question (University of California Press, 1994) which won the Best Book Prize from New England Council on Latin American Studies.