Japanese American Incarceration: Remembering an Unfinished History
During WWII, over 120,000 Japanese Americans were rounded up and incarcerated in US concentration camps. The majority were natural-born citizens, while the rest—immigrants racially barred from naturalization—had settled in the US many decades earlier. By scholarly consensus, the incarceration was not justifiable on legal, ethical, or military grounds, and the federal government formally acknowledged and apologized for this injustice in the 1980s.
Nonetheless, the memory of Japanese American incarceration remains a site of struggle in the present, because of what it means for national history and Japanese American collective identity, and because of its implications for current struggles over immigrants’ rights, Islamophobia, and mass incarceration. In this course, we’ll survey this history, and explore the terms of political struggle and cultural memory that animate contemporary debates.