The Japanese American Incarceration
Prof. Kim has published and spoken extensively across the United States on the Japanese American incarceration (also called internment or confinement) during World War II. As part of the nation’s history of civil rights, she works to put it in context for different audiences but also to introduce new voices and new aspects of this important history.
For an introduction to the history and terminology of Japanese American incarceration during World War II, see the curated website Studying Poston, a digital exhibit featuring student essays on primary documents from UNC’s Wilson Library from Prof. Kim’s 2012 English 88 course.
- Densho First Annual Scholars Roundtable
A roundtable of scholars, concurrent with a roundtable of archivists, convened by public history nonprofit Densho in Seattle in October 2016. This provided a new forum for scholars of the Japanese American incarceration to converse intensely on their individual new work but also the direction of the field. Read Densho’s blog for photos and descriptions of the weekend’s events, including Heidi Kim’s workshop.
- Taken from the Paradise Isle
Crafted from George Hoshida’s diary and memoir, as well as letters faithfully exchanged with his wife Tamae, Taken from the Paradise Isle is an intimate account of the anger, resignation, philosophy, optimism, and love with which the Hoshida family endured their separation and incarceration during World War II. The volume includes historical footnotes and contextualization as well as government documents detailing the behind-the-scenes handling of the cases of George, Tamae, and others from Hawaii.
It has been a privilege to work with the family and community to bring this important story to publication at long last, decades after George put it together.
WUNC Radio: Prof. Kim speaks with host Frank Stasio on “The State of Things.”
An email Q&A on the Discover Nikkei webpage.
In the video below taken at a public event at Hunter College CUNY, Prof. Kim speaks about the Hoshidas at 1h 33′.
Downloadable press promotional flyer: Kim_ParadiseIsle_Flyer
Review links may be found at the UP Colorado page for the book.
- Incarceration, Cafeteria Style
Heidi Kim’s essay “Incarceration, Cafeteria Style,” about the politics of proper eating during the Japanese American incarceration, appears in the first ever Asian American food studies reader, Eating Asian America, released in fall 2013 from NYU Press. See the book’s Amazon page here.
The A/P/A Institute at NYU hosted a wonderful book launch for us which was attended by well over 100 people. Chaired by Krishnendu Ray (NYU), the book’s three editors and three of the authors, including me, presented snippets of the essays and discussed the book’s overall motivation and contribution.
Below are some pictures from the event. Thanks to the A/P/A Institute at NYU for the photos.
- Fred Korematsu
Just out! “When You Can’t Tell Your Friends from the Japs: Reading the body in the Korematsu case.” Journal of Transnational American Studies special issue in honor of Sau-ling Cynthia Wong, spring-summer 2012 (4(1)).
Fred Korematsu, plaintiff of the landmark 1944 case Korematsu v. United States, famously had cosmetic surgery on his face to try to escape the ‘internment,’ the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. This article examines the popular and legal discussion of his surgery at that time, which show that fears of Japanese spies and the supposed inability to distinguish Japanese, captured in the famous Life magazine article “How To Tell Your Friends from the Japs,” directly influenced the courts’ rulings on the legality of the internment. The deliberate decision of the Supreme Court to excise this issue from the Korematsu opinion, which disclaimed racism as a root cause of the internment, is exposed through archival documents and drafts that betray a deep interest in his surgery, as do the government and lower court documents. As a heroic figurehead of civil rights, Korematsu complicates the discussion of surgical patients as complicit, drawing attention instead to the legalized discrimination that drives such choices. Likewise, key Supreme Court cases benefit from a close reading of the issue of mutable appearance and racial passing, as they show a common anxiety and inability to define race precisely on the body.
The issue is available for free online.
I was delighted to be able to participate in an issue to honor Sau-ling Wong and her many contributions to the field of Asian American studies. In particular, her idea of “food pornography” is always a hit with students!
- AAAS roundtable on JA incarceration
In April 2012, I joined Greg Robinson, Setsuko Nishi, Gene Oishi, and Cherstin Lyon for a roundtable on New Approaches to the Japanese American Incarceration. Greg and Cherstin are historians, Setsuko is a sociologist, and Gene is a novelist and retired journalist. We had a lively discussion of our new works in progress and the enduring importance of researching and reaching out to talk about one of the biggest civil rights violations in modern U.S. history.