The Mechanics of History (Yoann Bourgeois), shot by Tony Whitfield at the Panthéon in Paris on Oct 14, 2017.

 

Making the Master Race: Nazi Germany, Fascist Japan and the Rise and Fall of Racial States [Dissertation]

My dissertation investigates state-led ethno-racial classification practices in mono-ethnic racial supremacies – in short, how racist states socially construct racial difference in law, science and the media in order to obtain policy goals and maintain power. The dissertation inverts the conventional analyses of racial classification of ‘inferior’ populations by instead focusing on involuntary incorporation into the country’s dominant citizenship category, as colonial and imperial endeavors remapped national boundaries and citizenship fragmented along racialized lines. I draw on Japanese and German-language colonial and wartime archives to understand the construction of racialized difference in periods of rapid regime transition. The dissertation consists of four single-country chapters that make use of multilingual archival and primary sources; two comparative macro-historical and sociological chapters investigating questions of the nature of racial classification and its impact on institutions and policies of the welfare state; one methodological chapter on epistemologies of the archive, and lastly an appendix on translation. As any analysis of boundary work relies on careful attention to concepts and their deployment, I suggest ways in which sociologists might choose to deal with trans-linguistic particularities such as ‘untranslatables’, concepts so firmly located in networks of meaning that linguistic translation is infeasible.

 

Racialized: Germany, Japan and the Rise of the Contemporary Welfare State [Second Project]

We know little about how race shapes the welfare state outside of the North-American context. My research provides an historical comparative analysis of the making and unmaking of the early and mid-20th century German and Japanese welfare states and gauges the impact of transnational developments on these ostensibly national institutions. I explore the entire life cycle of racialized welfare state formation: Part one (1880s – 1940s) focuses on involuntary incorporation into the country’s dominant citizenship category, as colonial and imperial endeavors remapped national boundaries and citizenship fragmented along racialized lines. Part two (1930s – 1945) explores how changing conceptions of race and citizenship configure policy-making processes and how social policies in the formerly bounded nation-states and the annexed territories changed under total war. Part three (1945 – 1950s) examines the cumbersome process of deracialization after defeat. The project is based in Japanese and German-language archival documents drawn together from collections on three continents.