University of California, San Diego, United States
From 1929 to 1931 Kuwaki Gen’yoku, then chair of the philosophy department at the Tokyo Imperial University, met with and attended the lectures of a philosopher named Adalberto Garcia de Mendoza, eventually publishing an article about their encounter titled “A Mexican Philosopher” in 1931. In his account of their meeting Kuwaki describes how the two philosophers shared many interests, remarking on how they viewed the world in nearly “identical ways.” Through the archive of their correspondence, this presentation traces their encounter onto a larger history of Japanese and Mexican intellectual critiques of global modernity and national identity in the early to mid-twentieth century, specifically during the years immediately preceding and including the Asia-Pacific War. In particular, here I consider the role that philosophical production in Japan and Mexico played in transforming discourses on raciality into critical analyses of European and Anglo-American white supremacy and Eurocentric liberal universality, even as such analyses underwrote imperialist and policymaking and chauvinistic cultural ideologies. A transpacific and transnational feminist optics that centers the politics of race enables us, I argue, to link what we could call “imperial nationalisms” in Mexico and Japan to a broader genealogy of the intersections among intellectual production and the questions of race and gender difference.