transnational movements and sovereignty

Both Lesser and Linger’s discussions bring attention to the way in which the transnational movement of people throughout different historical periods destabilize the clearcut boundaries of nation-states. With the mass migration of Japanese to Brazil and of Brazilians citizens of Japanese heritage to Japan, what arises is a complication of the sovereignty of a nation-state. With Japan and Brazil, one sees how transnational networks create layered sovereignties in which nation-states must negotiate with one another and with the people moving their ability to “represent” its citizens. While none of the authors were specifically talking about this, their case studies reveal a fraught relationship between land, people and sovereignty where the geographic boundaries of countries and the claims to sovereignty these boundaries facilitate become virtual and porous.
Lesser’s short history on japanese, brazilians and nikkei not only brings attention to the constant negotiating for belonging that has been characteristic of Japanese experience in Brazil, but also calls attention to the details about how Japan and Brazil contested with each other their rights to claim the people who they see as their “citizens” in relation not to the people’s wellbeing but to particular national interests at the time. In other words, when subjects move, nation-states are also forced to move along with them, the boundaries become porous and so does the limits of how they can exert power over its citizens. I see this happening in Lesser’s piece when he discusses the Constitution of 1934 in Brazil. In these example, I see Brazilian boundaries pouring over two different imaginary geographical entities: U.S and Japan. By shaping the constitution of 1934 after the U.S National Origins Act of 1924, Brazilian law becomes a re-presentation, a performance of U.S sovereign law in order to deal with a situation that the Brazilian elite sees as analogous as the one provoked by immigration to the U.S. This act of modeling the law after another country’s law seems to complicate Brazilian sovereignty as it is now being shaped by another’s. The modeling turns both countries into less distinct entities while simultaneously allowing Japan to continue its sovereign right to profit from Japanese immigration, albeit now restricted to 2%. However, the appearance of ultra-Japanese nationalist secret societies during the war period can also be seen as an expression of sovereignty, one coming from the people who subscribe themselves as being part of the Japanese nation. The acts of terror committed by these societies (radical acts that were the result of Brazilian racism) are thus both domestic and international as they are motivated by a transnational interaction, an imaginary in which the people see themselves as serving their sovereign.
Linger’s discussion of Cesar and Moacir also suggests that even the decision to term a movement of people a diaspora is ideologically informed and subscribes to the countries’ respective claims to sovereignty. What is at stakes when Linger asks if Japanese Brazilians exists is not only a person’s sense of belonging but also the ability and legitimacy for a nation-state to hold claim over certain bodies for particular purposes. While Cesar might simply be Cesar, such enunciation does not allow Japan to claim Cesar as its own and to give him the opportunity to become a citizen. Having a Japanese diaspora or a Japanese Brazilian hyphenated identity is a way through which nation-states brand their subjects, making them legible to their particular needs. In doing so however, what the transnational movement of people does is also complicate the legitimacy of those claims as the lived experience of individuals will inform how much they subscribe to the claiming over their bodies.
If the movement of people complicates the mapping of sovereignty to a country’s geographic boundaries in a map, how could we possibly visualize a layered sovereignty – a map that shows the competing claims of nation-states over certain bodies, certain people? What is at stake in visualizing such competing claims? While I dont think a map could possible help us tackle the issues of identity and belonging created by transnational migration, a map as a tool of the state can be used to show those competing claims, to see how movement of people turn boundaries and the power contained by them porous