Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless

From the 1910s to the eve of World War II, more than 50,000 young second-generation Japanese Americans (Nisei) embarked on transpacific journeys to the Japanese Empire, putting an ocean between themselves and pervasive anti-Asian racism in the American West. Born U.S. citizens but treated as unwelcome aliens, this large contingent of Japanese Americans–one in four U.S.-born Nisei–came in search of better lives but instead encountered a world shaped by increasingly volatile U.S.-Japan relations.

Based on bilingual and transnational research in Japan and the United States, Michael R. Jin uncovers the stories of these American emigrants at the crossroads of U.S. and Japanese empires before, during, and after World War II. From the Jim Crow American West to the Japanese colonial frontiers in Asia, from a coastal village in southern Kyushu to the cityscapes of Tokyo, and from WWII incarceration camps in America to Hiroshima on the eve of the atomic bombing, Nisei migrants redefined ideas about home, citizenship, and belonging as they encountered multiple social realities on both sides of the Pacific. Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless examines the deeply intertwined histories of Asian exclusion in the United States, Japanese colonialism in Asia, and volatile geopolitical changes in the Pacific world that converged in the lives of Nisei workers, students, sojourners, and survivors of the war in the U.S.-Japan borderlands.



“For far too long, Nisei with life experiences in Japan have been written out of Japanese American history. Michael R. Jin rescues them from the historical oblivion perpetuated by the nationalist narrative of singular loyalty. Based on in-depth bilingual research, Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless gives much deserved complexities to the experiences of forgotten Nisei beyond the label of ‘disloyal’ or helpless victims. A transnational history at its best!”

–Eiichiro Azuma, author of In Search of Our Frontier: Japanese America and Settler Colonialism in the Construction of Japan’s Borderless Empire


“Michael R. Jin has transformed Nisei transnationalism from anecdote to experience. This is an impressive achievement.”

–Lon Kurashige, author ofTwo Faces of Exclusion: The Untold History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States


“[T]hese are American stories that unsettle mainstream myths of national identity, US immigration, and wartime loyalty and patriotism….This rich transnational history arrives 77 years after WWII ended, and 81 years after the executive order to intern Japanese and Japanese Americans, amid protests for racial justice and a rise in violence against Asian Americans; exactly when we need it.”

–Petrice R. Flowers, Pacific Affiairs


Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless is a groundbreaking transnational historical inquiry….a book that is dramatically innovative in terms of its topic and one that is exceedingly well-written, astutely documented, and deserving of reaching a wide audience of engaged readers.” 

–Arthur A. Hansen, Nichi Bei


“[Jin] is exhaustive in his research and unwavering in his focus on diasporic identity and its significance. But what I appreciate the most is his beautiful storytelling and how he takes great care to bring to life each of these unique individual histories….Jin’s book is an example of transnational history at its best.” 

–Chrissy Yee Lau, Ethnic Studies Review


“Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless is an important contribution to the fields of immigration and Asian American history due in no small part to Jin’s polished writing skills. His combination of clear historical description, context, and analysis with just the right amount of sociological and interpretive language helps to make book both readable and informative.”

–John E. Van Sant, Journal of Interdisciplinary History


Jin’s study is carefully focused and, by narrowing in at the deeply personal level, manages to raise questions that are often elided by scholarship preoccupied with issues like loyalty and identity.”

–Emily Anderson, Journal of Japanese Studies

Please let me know if you are considering Citizens, Immigrants, and the Stateless for course adoption. I would love to discuss the possibility of Zooming into your classroom to talk about the book with your students.