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Becoming YellowA Short History of Racial Thinking$
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Michael Keevak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691140315

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691140315.001.0001

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Yellow Peril

Yellow Peril

The Threat of a “Mongolian” Far East, 1895–1920

(p.124) Chapter 5 Yellow Peril
Becoming Yellow

Michael Keevak

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines how the discourse of yellow not only became ubiquitous in the West, but also migrated into East Asian cultures during the period 1895–1920, giving rise to “the yellow peril”—the notion that East Asians were yellow and perilous. It begins with a historical background on how the Far East came to be seen as a “yellow peril,” a term coined in 1895 and generally credited to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, specifically in response to Japan's defeat of China at the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War (also known as “The Yellow War”). The chapter then considers how the Western concept of a “yellow race” was understood in China and Japan before concluding with a discussion of the ways in which yellowness persisted as a potentially dangerous and threatening racial category in the early twentieth century.

Keywords:   yellow, yellow peril, East Asians, Far East, Wilhelm II, Japan, China, Sino-Japanese War, yellow race, yellowness

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