The brief histories of the Steveston Fishers’ Strike of 1900 are dominated by the arrival of the militia on 24 July and images of racialized violence between Japanese and white fishers. This thesis analyzes Japanese language sources and re-evaluates contemporary English language press reports to expand the strike narrative and demonstrate that Japanese fishers held significant negotiating power throughout the standoff. It argues that labeling Japanese as strikebreakers ignores their perspectives and goals in the labour dispute; however, this thesis also explains that there were important differences within the Japanese community and that to speak of a single Japanese perspective is to privilege individuals in positions of power who benefitted financially from fellow community members. It also demonstrates that by emphasizing tensions between groups of fishers, existing histories overlook the fact that the most violent acts of the month were done by the cannery owners through their connections with government.
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Thesis advisor: Geiger, Andrea
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