Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity and Transnationalism Article Prize
Yukari Takai, “Recrafting Marriage in Meji Hawai’i, 1885-1913”, Gender & History, 31, 3 (2019), 646-664.
This carefully crafted article is a model for intersectional historical analysis of gender. Disrupting familiar accounts of migrant families and households, Takai traces the strategic deployment of marriage and divorce by rural emigrants from Japan as they set out across the Pacific world. Practices such as karifūfu (temporary marriages), wife sale, and divorce allowed Japanese migrants to simultaneously align with and evade prevailing ideological and legal norms of marriage and womanhood. In so doing, migrants expressed and practiced their own dynamic “moeurs, mentalité and gender relations,” writes Takai. These practices could be exploitative of women, as many “circulated as a human currency” in Japanese migratory networks dominated by men, but other women were able to gain a measure of independence through the flexibility of marriage and family. In all, Takai convincingly conveys the complex lives and difficult choices of people in motion.