Apparitions of the Non-Alien: The Cultural Afterlives of Japanese American Incarceration
Examines representations ofthe World War II forced removal, mass incarceration, and resettlement of Japanese Americans, in literature, film, photography, and other arts, and their aesthetic and political consequences
All Japanese American stories are ghost stories. Although the incarceration of 126,000 Japanese Americans by the US government during World War II was never really a secret, it was a story that no one was ever supposed to fully tell. But the stories you aren’t supposed to tell are the ones you can never stop telling.
In this class, we’ll see how that story has been told through the decades, in literature, graphic novels, film, photography, and other arts. We’ll consider the spectral figure of “the non-alien,” a seemingly contradictory government euphemism that precisely captures what it means to be a citizen whose rights are cancellable on racial grounds. Additionally, we’ll ask how imaginative explorations of historical experiences of forced removal and and mass incarceration have inspired and been inspired by social movements, from the Asian American movement of the 1960s to contemporary organizing in solidarity with movements against immigrant detention and in support of Black lives.