The Spectacle of Japanese American Trauma
Racial Performativity and World War II
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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One day over a “working lunch” at one of our usual sushi joints, my longtime adviser, Dwight Conquergood, leaned across the table with a glimmer in his eyes and mischievously remarked, “Emily, I had no idea you had become so political.” He meant it as a compliment, and I took it as such. Dwight saw me through the most formative decade of my life, from a rather self-absorbed, ...
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After the closure of the World War II internment camps and the “relocation” of former internees to new postwar homes, many observed the remarkable silence and stoic rebounding with which most first- and second-generation Japanese Americans (Issei and Nisei) closed that chapter of their lives. It was this silence and stoicism that contributed in large part to their designation, ...
1. “A Race of Ingenious Marionettes”: Theatricalizing the Japanese, 1853–1946
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The first phase of the U.S. East Asia Squadron’s bloodless opening of Japan— reputedly ending two centuries of the island nation’s isolation “without firing a shot”—proved so strategic in containing Japanese resistance that its leader, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, resolved that the expedition’s second phase must either reprise his initial reliance on overwhelming spectacle or else ...
2. Spectacularizing Japanese American Suspects: The Genealogy of the FBI’s Post–Pearl Harbor Raids
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Within hours of the 7 December 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, FBI agents had snapped into spectacular action that resulted in the arrests of 1,395 purportedly dangerous Japanese Americans, newly classified as “enemy aliens” and “non-aliens,” in New York, California, and around the country.4 Headed by infamous director J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI raids on Japanese American communities in the wake of Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent detention ...
3. Performative Citizenship and Anti-Japanese Melodrama: The Mass Media Construction of Home Front Nationalism
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Fred Korematsu, the plaintiff in Korematsu v. United States (1944), singles out the disconcerting power of the American press when he looks back on the period during which he resisted the government’s exclusion orders against Japanese Americans. When Korematsu, a Nisei, got word that he would be forcefully evacuated from his home, he decided to evade what he considered ...
4. “Manzanar, the Eyes of the World Are upon You”: Internee Performance and Archival Ambivalence
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Applause, distant but ongoing, is the fi rst sound that greets today’s visitors to the Interpretive Center at Manzanar National Park in Inyo County, California. In National Park Service (NPS) lingo, the operation of such interpretive centers facilitates “the process of helping each park visitor fi nd an opportunity to personally connect with a place.” 2 On the same grounds ...
5. Transnational Theatre at the Tule Lake Segregation Center
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While “Japanesey” performances like the Manzanar New Year’s production of The Three Kichisas easily fit the theatricalizing discourse that affixed the feudal soul of Noh and Kabuki to all those of Japanese descent, the “peculiar hodgepodge and medley of things Japanese and things American” that characterized most internee performance festivals was uncategorizable to ...
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Publication Year: 2008