Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands

September 22, 2022

Join us for the launch of Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867-1945, a roundtable discussion with author and historian Andrea Geiger, Karen Ishizuka (Japanese American National Museum), and Michel Hogue (Carleton University), moderated by Andrew Graybill (SMU Center for Southwest Studies).

Converging Empires is co-published by UBC Press and by the University of North Carolina Press as part of its David J. Webber Series in the New Borderlands History.

Converging Empires addresses an important gap in the literature on border and borderlands history in North America, highlighting the role that the North Pacific borderlands played in the construction of race and citizenship on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border during the first half of the twentieth century.

Along the northwestern coast of North America, imperial, national, provincial, territorial, reserve, and municipal borders worked together to create a dynamic legal landscape that both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people negotiated in myriad ways as they traversed these borderlands. Within this broader framework, Geiger pays particular attention to the ways in which Japanese migrants and the Indigenous peoples who made this borderlands region their home for millennia negotiated the web of intersecting boundaries that emerged over time, charting the ways in which they infused these reconfigured national, provincial, and territorial spaces with new meanings.

To see the North Pacific borderlands only as a remote outpost that marked the westernmost edges of the U.S. or British empire, Geiger argues, is to miss not only the central place it occupied in the lives of the Indigenous peoples whose home it continues to be, but the extent to which it functioned, in the eyes of Japanese entrepreneurs, as an economic hinterland for an expanding Japanese empire. She also examines the impact of the racialized legal constraints written into the law in both Canada and the United States on both Japanese immigrants and Indigenous peoples in this borderlands region.


Karen Ishizuka is Chief Curator at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. She is the author of Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties (Verso, 2017) and Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration (University of Illinois Press, 2006).

Michel Hogue is associate professor of history at Carleton University in Ottawa. He is the author of Metis and the Medicine Line: Creating a Border and Dividing a People (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

Andrea Geiger is professor emerita of history at Simon Fraser University. She is the author of Converging Empires: Citizens and Subjects in the North Pacific Borderlands, 1867-1945 and Subverting Exclusion: Transpacific Encounters with Race, Caste and Borders, 1885-1928 (Yale University Press, 2011).


Andrew Graybill is professor of history and director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He is the author or editor of four books, including The Red and the White: A Family Saga of the American West (Liveright, 2013).

Watch the Q&A here

Due to technical dificulties, this recording does not include the intruductions from Andrew Graybill or Andrea Geiger. The recording picks up at the beginning of the Q&A portion which includes engaging discussions between Karen Ishizuka, Michel Hogue and Andrea Geiger.


Co-sponsored by SFU's David Lam Centre, and SFU Department of History.


September 22nd, 2022

Via Zoom.