The narratives of black emancipation and white settlement are usually separated in U.S. and Canadian history, but they are actually intertwined, says Professor Asaka.
I am a historian of the United States with an emphasis on the nineteenth century, imperialism, race, gender, and sexuality. Trained in U.S. and Japanese institutions, I have always taken comparative and transnational approaches in my study of history.
- U.S. in the world; empire; Asian and Black racial formations; women, gender, and sexuality; Atlantic/Pacific world
My first book, Tropical Freedom: Climate, Settler Colonialism, and Black Exclusion in the Age of Emancipation (Duke, 2017), argues that during the late eighteenth and mid nineteenth centuries British and American expansionists and free black activists produced different imaginings of an Atlantic world that variously and often contrastingly mapped black freedom within its geographic bounds and that these conflicting geographies of race and freedom became inseparably intertwined with U.S. and British North American settler colonial formations. Importantly, both promoters and protesters of geographic management of race employed tropes of domesticity and intra-racial reproduction as well as climatic idioms born of the centuries-long development of the plantation economies in the Americas. These languages not only underpinned legal, political, and ideological initiatives to exclude free blacks from settler colonial privileges but also suffused free black politics against them.
My second project investigates the opening of Japan as one facet of the intertwined development of racial formations and global imperial visions in the nineteenth-century U.S. It is also a transimperial study exploring Japanese views of race-based overseas rule formed through its exposure to U.S. engagements with non-white peoples inside and outside the nation's borders, from Philadelphia to Angola to Batavia, some of whom were under European colonial rule. Both Americans and Japanese employed language of gender and sexuality in their construction of racial differences. Some of my research findings have been published in "'Colored Men of the East': African Americans and the Instability of Race in US-Japan Relations," American Quarterly (2014).
- PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gender and Women's History Program, 2010
Distinctions / Awards
- Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Award, 2016-18
- American Council of Learned Societies, New Faculty Fellowship, Women's and Gender Studies, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey, 2012-13
- HIST275 African American History to 1877
- HIST285 History of Gender in the United States
- HIST385 Transnational Sexualities
- HIST482 Slavery in the United States
- HIST570 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in North American Colonialisms
In The News
Join us in Congratulating Professor Ikuko Asaka who was just named as a Lincoln Excellence for Assistant Professors Scholar.