Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu

Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu is a Japanese/American multicultural psychologist and author specializing in understanding and illuminating issues of diversity and identity in nations, organizations, families, and individuals. He is Consulting Professor in the Stanford School of Medicine, and on the faculties of Stanford's Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity and Fielding Graduate University. He is the author of When Half is Whole: Multiethnic Asian American Identities (Stanford University Press, 2012) and Synergy, Healing, and Empowerment: Insights from Cultural Diversity (with Richard Katz) (Brush Education, 2012).

Updated January 2013 

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Nikkei Chronicles #2—Nikkei+: Stories of Mixed Language, Traditions, Generations & Race

“I’m not half, I’m whole!”

“I hate the word ‘half,’ which is used to designate people like me. I always wanted to be someone who is ‘whole.’” The young man raised his eyes to the evening sky and gazed upon the rising moon. It suddenly struck me that Byron and I were like the moon. As we are called “half,” the moon we were looking at is called a “half moon.” But like the moon, “half” is an illusion; there is much more to the moon than what meets the eye and there is much more to us than what people see. Like the moon, …

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My Transnational, Hapa Identity in Question

I like to say that I have a transnational, multicultural, multiethnic identity. I am hapa, haafu, I am both/and, Japanese AND American. But I know that many others still see the world in dichotomies, as either/or, Japanese OR American.

I know what I look like. I’ve seen my face in the mirror before. But I forget that others might see me differently than I see myself. And I know who I am. But I am aware that others usually do not know me.


I was reminded of this while riding in a taxi with my 108 year-old grandmother in …

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Hidden Hapa

“Hey, what are you doing over there with the Hapa?”


Kathy and I looked over and there were three of our Japanese American friends at another table smiling at us, one with a mischievous grin. Sandy had jokingly pointed out that I was a mixed blood amidst a group of full bloods. Kathy and I smiled back at them and returned to our conversation.

But Kathy suddenly surprised me by saying, “Actually, I’m kind of mixed too; my mother is from Okinawa; like an interracial marriage to Japanese.” I looked over at my friends and remembered that one of …

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Caring for Transnational Grandparents

When I walk in the park near my house in Palo Alto, California some of the elderly Chinese and Indians smile at me and my dogs while others are indifferent or scared. Like many immigrants who come here later in their lives to join children and grandchildren they are spending their last years far from their “home” countries. Their transnational families bring them here hoping that it is the best place for aging and dying.

When we realized that she could no longer live alone in Japan, we brought Obaachan to the U.S. to die. No one actually said that …

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