Becoming One opens with author Chika Watanabe in a Burmese training center, called to attention during a scene of early morning routine—the cleaning of community space, staff inspections, followed by group participation in rajio taisō, a Japanese calisthenics program that has been broadcast since the late 1920s. In this short vignette, Watanabe introduces the reader to the complex moral dimensions that encircle the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA)—discipline, nationalism, and nostalgia for a fraught past. As one of Japan's largest humanitarian organizations, one of OISCA's primary goals is to teach Japanese agricultural methods to communities living in developing countries. Watanabe argues that central within OISCA's work as a humanitarian organization is an ideology of “oneness.” Yet this oneness, rather than resolving inequality, reproduces it.

The questions of why and how solidarity coexists alongside unequal relations appear most clearly in the book's fourth chapter but can be...

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