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After Camp

Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics

Greg Robinson

Publication Year: 2012

This book illuminates various aspects of a central but unexplored area of American history: the midcentury Japanese American experience. A vast and ever-growing literature exists, first on the entry and settlement of Japanese immigrants in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, then on the experience of the immigrants and their American-born children during World War II. Yet the essential question, "What happened afterwards?" remains all but unanswered in historical literature. Excluded from the wartime economic boom and scarred psychologically by their wartime ordeal, the former camp inmates struggled to remake their lives in the years that followed. This volume consists of a series of case studies that shed light on various developments relating to Japanese Americans in the aftermath of their wartime confinement, including resettlement nationwide, the mental and physical readjustment of the former inmates, and their political engagement, most notably in concert with other racialized and ethnic minority groups.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vii

Table of Contents

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pp. viii-ix

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pp. 1-12

...This book illuminates various aspects of a central but unexplored area of American history: the midcentury Japanese American experience. A vast and ever-growing literature exists, first on the entry and settlement of Japanese immigrants in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, then on the experience of the immigrants and their American-born...

Part I: Resettlement and New Lives

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Chapter 1: Political Science? FDR, Japanese Americans, and the Postwar Dispersion of Minorities

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pp. 15-30

...and statistics— that academics have used to bring scientific principles to the study of political behavior. Yet my use of these two words comes from a completely opposite direction and refers to the use of science for political purposes— an unexamined aspect of the domestic and foreign policy of President Franklin Roosevelt...

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Chapter 2: Forrest LaViolette: Race, Internationalism, and Assimilation

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pp. 31-43

...The career and complex views of Forrest Emmanuel LaViolette provide a special window into the question of Japa nese American (and Canadian) resettlement and assimilation. LaViolette, a University of Chicago– trained sociologist engaged in research on Japa nese Americans and cultural values, became a lecturer at the University of Washington in the late 1930s...

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Chapter 3: Japantown Born and Reborn: Comparing the Resettlement Experience of Issei and Nisei in Detroit, New York, and Los Angeles

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pp. 43-66

...The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the unleashing of World War II in the Pacific wiped out the thriving Japanese communities on the Pacific coast of the United States. In the weeks that followed the onset of war, military officials on the West Coast became increasingly terrifi ed of a Japanese invasion. They proceeded to single out the region’s Japanese American population as potential spies and saboteurs on the basis of their ancestry...

Part II: The Varieties of Assimilation

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Chapter 4: Birth of a Citizen: Miné Okubo and the Politics of Symbolism

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pp. 69-84

...These critics make much of Okubo’s trickster nature and her use of double- sided combinations of words and images as weapons of resistance. Pointing to the disjunction between the narrative and Okubo’s accompanying drawings, they contend that beneath the text’s apparently clear (and supposedly inoffensive) surface narrative lurk various subversive and radical messages awaiting decryption...

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Chapter 5: The “New Nisei” and Identity Politics

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pp. 85-102

...The mass removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans by the United States government during World War II brutalized its victims not only by stripping away their civil rights and causing them to lose most of their possessions but also by upsetting their psychological equilibrium. Before the war, the vast majority of Japanese Americans on the American continent lived on the West Coast, where they built close-knit ethnic communities...

Part III: Interethnic Politics

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Chapter 6. Japanese Americans and Mexican Americans: The Limits of Interracial Collaboration

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pp. 105-138

...Historians have begun in recent years to look past limited views of race in American history as a series of interactions between individual minorities (generally African Americans) and the white majority. The study of connections between racialized groups— that is, those considered as “other” than white and subjected to discrimination on that basis— and how they...

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Chapter 7: From Kuichi to Comrades: Japanese American Views of Jews in the 1930s and 1940s

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pp. 139-154

...Several years ago, as part of my research into the war time confinement of Japanese Americans, I came across some correspondence by Kiyoshi Okamoto. Okamoto, a Hawaiian- born Nisei, was the found er of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee, which campaigned for restoration of civil rights to confi ned Japanese Americans during World War II and protested...


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pp. 155-162

Part IV: African American Supporters of Japanese Americans, and the Shift in Nisei Views of African Americans

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Chapter 8: African American Responses to the War time Confinement of Japanese Americans

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pp. 165-178

...Scholars of United States history and literature have devoted increasing attention over the past generation to the study of past encounters between African Americans and Asian Americans. Beyond the importance of the question in academic terms, the rediscovery of the history of black- Asian relations has a particular urgency about it. Even after the end of the twentieth century, in a world of changing global alliances and power relations...

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Chapter 9: The Los Angeles Defender: Hugh E. Macbeth and Japanese Americans

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pp. 179-190

...The long history of relations between Asian Americans and African Americans has been marked by a complex succession of interactions, in which individuals have at different times expressed curiosity, disdain, admiration, hostility, envy, affection, rivalry, xenophobia, and sympathy for the other. Probably the most common sentiment has been indifference— members of...

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Chapter 10: Crusaders in Gotham: The JACD and Interracial Activism

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pp. 191-200

...The most unique element of 1940s New York Japa nese community life, and one in which resettlers would also play a prominent role, was the development of a mass Nikkei political action group, the Japa nese American Committee for Democracy. The JACD has been effectively ignored in the history of Japa nese Americans, no doubt as a result of its close relationship...

Part V: The Rise and Fall of Postwar Coalitions for Civil Rights

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Chapter 11: From Korematsu to Brown: Nisei and the Postwar Struggle for Civil Rights

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pp. 203-224

...that the Court clearly and defi nitively established its doctrine of “strict scrutiny.” According to this doctrine, race was a “suspect classifi cation” under the Constitution, meaning that the Court would subject to a searching examination any government action that involved a racial classifi cation, rather than assume its constitutionality, and that it would hold the action to be unconstitutional unless it served a...

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Chapter 12: An Uneasy Alliance: Blacks and Japanese Americans, 1954–1965

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pp. 225-248

...The interaction between Nisei and African Americans in the period from the 1940s to the 1960s offers a revealing window into the complexities of American society and race relations. Although members of both groups suffered continuing race- based discrimination in differing forms and degrees, their experience did not necessarily bring them together. Encounters...

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pp. 249-256

...His principal goal, as he described it, was to tell the inspiring tale of the Japanese community’s social ascension, despite the exceptional level of exclusion and discrimination its members had faced relative to other immigrants. As former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer stated in the book’s preface, the history of Japanese Americans was “the...


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pp. 257-310


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pp. 311-327

E-ISBN-13: 9780520952270
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520271593

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 776108963
MUSE Marc Record: Download for After Camp

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Japanese Americans -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Japanese Americans -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Japanese Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
  • Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
  • Cold War -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Community life -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1945-.
  • United States -- Ethnic relations -- 20th century.
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