Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Fredy Gonzalez

Second Advisor

Mithi Mukherjee

Third Advisor

Gerardo Gutierrez


This thesis examines the extent to which international collaboration spawning from Peruvian-Japanese diplomacy forged an international and regional consciousness among Pacific states in the interwar era (1918-1930). Dividing the interwar period into three distinct, chronological phases, this thesis paints a narrative of Peruvian-Japanese diplomacy as a historical phenomenon which emerges, plateaus, and declines, as both an instigator and product of the contemporary geopolitical processes unfolding in the Pacific region. This paper utilizes direct correspondence between Peruvian and Japanese diplomats, as well as a dense array of secondary sources, to reconcile surface level diplomatic behavior with the deeper geopolitical ambitions of a state. Furthermore, by linking the seemingly distinct nineteenth century origins of Japanese labor migration to Peru with their twentieth century diplomatic consequences, this thesis additionally exposes the foundation of Peruvian-Japanese diplomacy as an alliance of mutual desperation and convenience. This thesis also emphasizes the fundamental role played by the perception of empire in the 1920s Pacific, as fear of imperialism encouraged previously distinct states into transcontinental collaboration. Finally, this project examines racism as an avenue for geopolitical inclusion as the “Yellow Peril,” while excluding the Japanese conversely encouraged an unprecedented sense of commonality between states in the Americas. Ultimately, attributing a novel historical agency to the South American past and the historical role of non-Western, non-white states in creating an international community, this thesis reveals the consequences of diplomacy, migration, and empire in forging the Pacific world.