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Contesting citizenship : race, gender, and the politics of participation in the U.S. and Japanese welfare states, 1962-1982

  • Author(s): Tsuchiya, Kazuyo
  • et al.
Abstract

Contesting Citizenship compares African American welfare activism in Los Angeles with the zainichi Korean battles for welfare rights in Kawasaki during the 1960s and 1970s. A comparison of these two struggles affords us unique insights into the contested nature of citizenship during the period of welfare state expansion in the U.S. and Japan. It investigates both institutional discourses and the ways in which they were challenged by grass-roots organizations. It puts the case of the American Community Action Program (CAP), a core program of President Lyndon B. Johnson's "War on Poverty," in a transnational context by introducing the case of the Japanese Model Community Program (MCP). Both CAP and MCP were political responses to perceived national "crises" brought about by social movements in the 1960s. Also, both programs produced gendered and racialized notions of citizenship and "community." Nevertheless, CAP and MCP yielded different results for black Angelenos and Kawasaki Koreans, respectively. In CAP, the idea of the program as a vehicle for fostering the participation of African Americans and the "poor," coexisted with the notion that "maximum feasible participation" would simply be a symbolic gesture. Black Angelenos took advantage of this ambiguous aspect of CAP. Once the programs were initiated, they fought to transform the concept of "maximum feasible participation" into a pathway through which new political opportunities could be pursued. The MCP, on the other hand, became an apparatus in recreating a racialized national orthodoxy. While the Japanese government utilized citizenship as an excuse to deny former colonial subjects access to the expanding welfare state, Kawasaki Koreans asserted their citizenship rights in the fields of welfare and education. Furthermore, antiracist networking with African American church leaders had empowered Kawasaki Koreans to contest the narrow definition of citizenship in postwar Kawasaki and Japan. African Americans and "zainichi" Koreans stood at the center of debates about citizenship and welfare during an era of massive welfare expansion. I argue that the scholarship on the welfare state must register the agency of subjugated individuals, and locate them as historical actors in the formation of welfare programs and policy

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