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Celebrating and Remembering Keith Aoki:
Musician, Professor, Artist

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Keith Aoki: The Musician













Keith Aoki: The Law Professor


“Orientalism” is that process with which Eurocentric nation states have, for at least the past five centuries, defined themselves in opposition to “Oriental” others. The subject position occupied by Asian Americans reflects this tension between global “Orientalism” and American understandings of “race.” In addition to being “race-ed” as “non-whites,” Asian Americans are also “race-ed” as “foreign”--the palimpsest of Asian origin is never fully erased in the United States; instead it acquires a racialized charge.

“Foreign-ness” & Asian American Identities: Yellowface, World War II Propaganda, and Bifurcated Racial Stereotypes, 4 Asian Pac. Am. L.J. 1 (1996).


By realizing and engaging in such negotiated dialogism, in which stereotypical images are destabilized, socio-cultural and legal space is created for transformational restructuring of the very institutional and structural nets that have too often ensnared us in their interpretive loops.

“Foreign-ness” & Asian American Identities: Yellowface, World War II Propaganda, and Bifurcated Racial Stereotypes, 4 Asian Pac. Am. L.J. 1 (1996).

California Alien Land Law


The salient point of these laws was their strongly racialist basis —“aliens ineligible to citizenship” was a disingenuous euphemism designed to disguise the fact that the targets of such laws were first-generation Japanese immigrants, or “Issei.” The objective of these laws was to prevent racialized “others,” (who were also foreigners)—non-white Japanese barred from naturalized U.S. citizenship—from asserting the “right to own,” a fundamental stick in the proverbial “bundle of sticks” U.S. property regime, and related sticks such as the “right to rent” and the “right to devise” property by bequest.

No Right to Own?: The Early Twentieth Century “Alien Land Laws” as a Prelude to Internment, 40 B.C. L. Rev. 37 (1998).

Fred Korematsu


To Derrick Bell, perhaps all law and commentaries on law have an inescapable science fictional component. Law is, after all is said and done, the crystallization of a society's power relations, however rigid or fluid members of that society may choose to allow such crystallization to occur.

One Hundred Light Years of Solitude: The Alternate Futures of Latcrit Theory,  54 Rutgers L. Rev. 1031 (2002).



When I look back on both my legal education and my own path to a position within that same hierarchy, I feel a sense of déjà vu when reading work that rages against the machine. I am heartened to see that there are thoughtful, eloquent, and angry voices being raised to engage in skirmishes on one of  the myriad fronts where formations of illegitimate hierarchy persist . . . By searching for and finding a voice, they act. By openly engaging with the hierarchical law review bureaucracy, they act. And by finding the means to broadcast their message in the face of institutional hostility, they act. The pieces in this symposium are “verbs.”

Does Nothing Ever Change; Is Everything New?: Comments on the “To Do Feminist Legal Theory” Symposium, 9 Cardozo Women's L.J. 415 (2003).


The second troubling aspect of the film is the way Snow Falling on Cedars unabashedly fails to interrogate the interracial obsession, indeed fetish, Ishmael has for Hatsue. In films involving relationships between exotic “Oriental” women and their white lovers (a theme that has been the basis of many U.S. films for decades), the Oriental woman is inevitably objectified problematically as either a menacing “dragon lady” or a chaste “lotus blossom.This objectification springs from a white male fetish for Asian women. While the film does condemn the intolerance the community demonstrates for Ishmael and Hatsue, there is very little critical examination of the internal interracial dynamics of such a relationship.

Is Chan Still Missing? An Essay About the Film Snow Falling on Cedars and Representations of Asian Americans in U.S. Films, 7 Asian Pac. Am. L.J. 30 (2001).



What happens when the threatening “others” are no longer “there”? That is, because of globalization and communication technology, what happens when the “others” are either virtually or actually “here,” and “we” (i.e. the West) are virtually or actually “there”? Furthermore, what happens when “we” have met the “others” and find that the “others” are “us”?  A diaspora analysis in the context of the Asian Century may help us understand this complex set of questions. The current use of the term the Asian Century does not make sense if “Asia,” “Asians,” and the “West” are dispersed. An examination of Asian diaspora provides a theoretical lens from which the term the Asian Century can be unpackaged.

The Yellow Pacific: Transnational Identities, Diasporic Racialization, and Myths(s) of the “Asian Century”, 44 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 897 (2011).

Kieth Aoki: The Artist








Aoki Education Trust

Professor Steven Bender
Trustee for the Aoki Education Trust
Seattle University School of Law
901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
Seattle, WA 98122

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