I N T R O D U C T I O N
This book has what may at first appear a paradoxical ambition. It argues
for the historical absence of an event that is perhaps the most widely
reported and studied single episode in Asian American history: the in-
ternment of Japanese Americans during World War II. For decades the
debacle and devastation of internment have been known and written
about by many scholars, who acknowledge that the internment of Japa-
nese Americans remains an unparalleled act in the history of the na-
tion. It was an act that involved the forced removal and imprisonment
of almost 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry in the United States,
two-thirds of whom were American citizens by birth, under nothing
more than a suspicion of what the U.S. government deemed ‘‘dis-
loyalty.’’ What’s more, the record of the enduring interest in Japa-
nese American internment crosses almost every imaginable disciplin-
ary and genre boundary throughout the last fifty years of American
culture.
Social scientists, both then and now, have remained intrigued by the
so-called problem of Japanese American identity that became the dubi-
ous rationalization for internment. Many, although not all, of the social
scientists who studied the e¤ects of internment in the 1940s were
white anthropologists who had never worked in Japanese or Japanese
American cultures before taking part in the government analysis proj-
ects installed in the camps. Still, their numerous governmental reports
and their scholarly articles based on observations of internment con-
tinue to o¤er a wealth of archival information for scholars. In response
to residual public interest in the event, two major memoirs of the in-
ternment experience were published in the years immediately follow-
ing the interment: Mine Okubo’s Citizen 13660 in 1946, and Monica
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