Modes of domination travel: Marie Nitta, Lost in Transplantation: Knowledge Production and Memory at U.S. Land Grant Colleges in Colonial and Cold War Japan, PhD dissertation, University of Michigan, 2017


Abstract: The U.S. land grant college model was transplanted to the northern and southern islands of the Japanese archipelago in the late nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, respectively. My dissertation investigates exactly what was transplanted and what was left behind in the history-making process of U.S.-Japan relations. While these historical events are conventionally studied in different fields, this dissertation bridges Indigenous Studies and U.S. and Japanese histories to provide transnational perspectives in its examination of the roles of U.S. land grant colleges in late nineteenth century Japanese settler colonialism and U.S. imperialism and post-1945 Cold War politics in East Asia. Drawing on multi-sited archival research in both countries and critically engaging with national and university archives, “Lost in Transplantation: Knowledge Production and Memory at U.S. Land Grant Colleges in Colonial and Cold War Japan” reveals the intimate connections between U.S. imperialism and Japanese settler colonialism via agricultural colleges that were previously obscured or lost in their different and nationally bounded ways of remembering and forgetting. My dissertation discusses how the U.S. land grant college system, which was invented as a legal device for the distribution of land in the public domain of the United States in 1862, along with land laws enacted for the purpose of U.S. settler colonialism, informed the Japanese during their colonizing projects in Hokkaido. It reveals that agricultural colleges promoted Japanese settler colonialism through land cultivation that relied on U.S. technology, ignored indigenous knowledge production, and transformed native ecology. By extending its temporal scope from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, it further examines how the United States again deployed the U.S. land grant model during its occupation of Japan and Okinawa amidst rising Cold War tension in East Asia. In this global Cold War context, this dissertation further reveals that U.S. officials, U.S. and Japanese university administrators, and Japanese student activists partially and differently invoked historical memories of U.S.-assisted Japanese colonialism, while engaging in critical acts of forgetting their shared pasts. The significance of this project lies in its use of global and transnational perspectives to unveil the material and discursive structures of U.S. and Japanese dual imperialisms and their problematic impacts on indigenous populations.

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