Participating Scholars
Maria Elena Ota Mishima(deceased Spring, 2000)

Project Description


Institutional Participants



Staff and Advisors

English Japanese
Spanish Portuguese

Japanese American
National Museum

Dr. Ota Mishima, a second-generation Mexican of Japanese ancestry, was a Professor at the Center of Asian and African Studies at El Colegio de México in México City. She obtained her Ph.D. in history at the National Autonomous University of México in 1982. She had published extensively on people of Japanese descendants in México. She also collaborated with Japanese scholars to develop Japanese-language materials for Spanish-speaking people.

*Professor Maria Elena Ota Mishima will be sorely missed and long remembered for her scholarship and the pioneering contributions she made to our knowledge of immigration history and Nikkei Studies. Her latest publications was Destino México: un estudio de las migraciones asiaticas a México, siglos XIX y XX(El Colegio de México, 1997). Further inquires could be made to El Colegio de México, where Professor Mishima was a Professor of History at the Center of Asian and African Studies at:

El Colegio de México C.E.A.
Camino al Ajusco, #20
Col. Pedregal de Sta. Teresa
México, D.F. 01000

Research Proposal Abstract
Mexicans of Japanese Ancestry

Today, there are approximately 30,000 people of Japanese ancestry who live in México. Professor Ota will examine archives, Japanese association directories, and university records to determine the generational breakdown. She is particularly interested in studying the identity of the fifth generation Japanese Mexicans whose ancestors immigrated to México starting in 1897. She will distribute questionnaires and conduct interviews to explore: What is left of their Japan heritage after five generations? What are the links between México and Japan? What is the identity of Mexicans of Japanese origin? In-depth interviews will be conducted with sons who have inherited businesses from their fathers, in regions where Japanese Mexicans are concentrated, such as Chiapas, Veracrúz, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Jalisco, Baja California and México City.