The Korean War and Race in the Minds of U.S. Foreign Policy Leaders

Sunday, January 10, 2010: 11:00 AM
Manchester Ballroom B (Hyatt)
Kevin Y. Kim , Stanford University
This paper examines the impact of the Korean War upon shifting discourses on race and foreign relations among a select group of ideologically diverse national political leaders during the late 1940s and early 1950s. During the Cold War, race reform was a major domestic and international issue. Just as it intensified military, economic, and political commitments worldwide, the Korean War also intensified the role of race as a cultural factor in U.S.-Asia relations and foreign relations in general. Previous scholarship has established that conservative and liberal leaders officially repudiated institutional racism and racial prejudice as part of world democracy’s struggles against Communism. However, this paper examines published and unpublished cultural sources to argue that, within a Cold War framework of anti-racism and anti-communism, race nonetheless continued to influence the perceptions of politicians ranging from ex-Progressive Party presidential candidate Henry Wallace to Herbert Hoover and Senator Robert Taft. These perceptions, in turn, influenced the policies these leaders helped to create during the formative Korean War period of the Cold War, from basic foreign policy strategies in to pro-Asian immigration reforms.
Previous Presentation | Next Presentation >>