Network Graphing with Palladio

Below I talk about the utility of using Palladio to talk about transpacific networks, but I don’t provide a step-by-step guide to this process. That will come in a later post.

Network Graphing and the Japan Pavilion at the Golden Gate International Exposition


One of the biggest challenges to writing or speaking about transpacific migrant networks is making them legible for the audience. One of the most common means of doing this is to narrate from the perspective of one or a handful of actors in the network. There are more examples of this tendency than I can count, which all tend to fall in the great-man paradigm of history. Biographies of internationalist Nitobe Inazō and Shibusawa Eiichi come to mind. This poses two major pitfalls. First, because of a comparable dearth of materials written from women’s perspectives, if can be hard to grasp the role women played in transpacific networks. Second, by telling the story from one or a few perspectives, historians can misjudge the extent of networks. For instance, subject A may have regularly corresponded with groups W and X. But if W and X also correspond with group Y and Z on a shared project, then they are part of the network, too. I think this is one way in which emigrants are written out of both national and transnational histories–they are either overlooked or not deemed important enough to the larger project. Remember, the historical figures we may be basing our analysis on have an inherent interest in telling stories of international exchange in ways that overplays their own importance.

Open-source network analysis programs such as Palladio offer a solution to this issue. In a paper I recently presented for the Harvard Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies (link), I used several network graphs made with Palladio to illustrate the support of Japanese Americans in the San Francisco bay area for the Japan’s Pavilion at the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE).

Japanese Americans carrying lanterns in parade to celebrate GGIE opening. Shin Sekai Asahi Shinbun, February 18, 1939.

This paper is based on Japanese planning documents for the fair held at the Diplomatic Record Office, Stanford’s Hōji Shinbun Database, and some commemorative albums put together by the Japanese American association created to help out with exposition planning. My main goal with this paper was to show how local immigrants were the public face of the Japan Pavilion and vital intermediaries for Japanese planners in organizing events. This was an extension of immigrant leader’s position as brokers of Japanese engagement with the American public more generally. To prove this, I wanted to show the relationship between Japanese American group such as the local Japanese Association and San Francisco Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Japanese Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The biggest asset in mapping this network were a number of membership lists of groups supporting the Japan Pavilion. It was obvious from some lists that these groups shared members. Below is a graph showing overlap (shown by the connections in the middle) in board membership between the SF Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Support Association (Nihonjin Kyōsankai) local immigrants formed to support the Japan Pavilion. From this we can see the Support Association had a diverse and larger membership made up primarily of local Japanese Association chapters, newspapers, and smaller business groups. The SF Japanese Chamber of Commerce was made up primarily of larger import businesses. We can conclude from this graph that the Support Association was a vehicle for mobilizing the broader Japanese community in California to support the pavilion.

Support and SFJCOC 19.3

By adding other association lists to my network graph, we can see how the effort to support the Japan Pavilion had connections with planning boards for the fair back in Japan. Japanese planners in government, business, and universities formed two major associations to coordinate fair designs and exhibits: the New York and San Francisco World’s Fair Association, and the Committee to Select Exhibits for the New York and San Francisco World’s Fair. While these boards did not have any immigrant representatives, the graph below illustrates that various industries and ministries tied the two groups together: industry associations, the Foreign Ministry, Chambers of Commerce, and transportation companies. To show these connections, I had to make nodes in the networks employer categories rather than individual names.

GGIE 4 2019.3

Finally, I wanted to show the place of the Support Association in the broader field of Japanese public diplomacy and world’s fair celebrations in the late-imperial period. So, I added other association board membership lists, including the Association of Japan International Exposition (for the canceled 1940 Tokyo International Expo.), the Association to Celebrate Japan’s 2,600th Anniversary (of Japan’s mythical founding by Emperor Jimmu), and the Japan World’s Fair Association.

Graph 5 groups 19.3

Again we can see numerous links that we can interpret as avenues of influence and cooperation between the Japanese community of San Francisco and quasi-governmental organizations in Japan dedicated to international cultural exchange and commercial promotion. While these links took this form in 1939, I argue with other evidence that these links were part of a long-term partnership between elite emigrants in California and the Japanese government and business worlds. If I had narrated this story from the perspective of SF Japanese Chamber of Commerce secretary Watanabe Hisakatsu, for instance, we would not be able to see the broader network within which local immigrants were an integral part. Certainly these immigrants were peripheral to the larger process of planning Japan’s cultural diplomacy of the area, but they had an important and ongoing intermediary role to play in promoting Japanese culture and commerce on an international stage.


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