Falling in Love with Japan: Emma Guffey Miller in Japan, 1901-1906
13 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2015 Last revised: 28 Sep 2018
Date Written: April 7, 2010
Emma Guffey Miller was a notable Democratic figure in Pennsylvania. For example, she has been known for her battle for women’s voting rights, for her fight against prohibition, and for her leadership in organizing the Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women. Also she is famous for being the first American woman to receive a half vote for the presidential nomination at the national convention in 1924. However, unfortunately no attention has been paid to the fact that she lived in Japan from 1901 to 1906, and left continuous records of Meiji Japan. Relying upon her personal papers, I examine what brought her all the way to Japan and how she viewed Japanese society after the Mixed Residence Policy was put into effect. In some respects, as the paper indicates, Miller’s “love” for Japan can be described as an enigma masked by cultured relativism on one side, and instinctive racial prejudice on the other.
Her experience in Bryn Mawr College enhanced her interest in Japan and the Japanese, and helped open avenues of cultural exchange and even for residence in Japan. Miller’s interest in and favor toward Japan extended throughout her life and she was more open to diversity and more relativistic than many of her contemporaries at home in America.
However, that did not mean that she remained completely neutral; there was another side of her personality. As her observations of Japan were judicious and keen, but at the same time slightly myopia. Especially racially, Miller had never been driven to extremes, but at the same time, she couldn’t cast away an instinctive hatred of Japanese. The episodes shown in the paper clearly exemplifies Miller’s bias and racial prejudice, and she had never been able to cast them away. Reflection on this should lead us to a better understanding of her ambivalent attitude toward racial issues during the later period of her life.
Keywords: Emma Guffey Miller, Mix Residence Japan, New Deal, Pennsylvania
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