jeffrey lesser

Introduction:LookingforHome
inAlltheWrongPlaces

Is home a place or a state of mind? Is it both? Does a person have multiple
homes or just one? Can home change rapidly, like the weather, or is the pro-
cessof homemakingandhomebreakingaconstantone?Theauthorswhohave
contributed to Searching for Home Abroad analyze these questions by examining
a rarely studied but extraordinary case of transnational homemaking, break-
ing, and transforming: the migration of hundreds of thousands of Japanese
to Brazil in the first half of the twentieth century, followed by the migration of
hundreds of thousands of Brazilians to Japan in the last decades of the same
century.
Thetermsusedtodescribebothmovementsarehighlycontested.WereJapa-
nese citizens who went to Brazil believing they would build a ‘‘New Japan’’
immigrants or imperialists? Are Brazilians who qualify for special labor visas
because of their ostensible Japanese descent involved in a ‘‘return’’ to Japan,
a classic labor migration, or something altogether different? Does the term
Nikkei, now regularly used by scholars of ethnicity to refer to people of Japa-
nese descent, have much meaning when notions of gender, class, generation,
national identity, and subethnic identityare introduced? Byapproaching these
questions from a numberof perspectives, this volume expands a discussion of
ethnicity by introducing significant, and complicating, nuances into notions
of modernity, globalization, diaspora, and transnational identity. Some of the
essays examine Japanese immigrant and Japanese Brazilian life in Brazil while
others analyze the so-called dekassegui (or, in the Japanese romanization, deka-
segi) movement of Nikkei and their often non-Nikkei spouses and ‘‘mestiço’’
children to Japan. All contextualize Brazilians as part of a broader minority
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