Taken from the Paradise Isle: The Hoshida Family Story, edited by Heidi Kim and with a foreword by Franklin Odo, was released in July 2015 from the University Press of Colorado.
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.
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.
Top row: Robert Ku, Krishnendu Ray, Anita Mannur, Martin Manalansan IV. Bottom row: Nina Fallenbaum Ichikawa, Zohra Saed, Heidi Kim.
My post on a little gem of a Steinbeck finding at the UT Austin Harry Ransom Center (a true treasure trove of literary materials) is up here.
As with so many male authors of the period, Steinbeck’s depiction of women has often been critiqued. Here, he encapsulates his views on women to the point of self-caricature. Flair was a short-lived, very high-art magazine which had a well received run in the 1950s.
My article on the reception and performance history of John Adams’ song setting of “The Wound-Dresser” (a great piece for baritone and small orchestra) is out from my friends at the WWQR. Thanks to editor Ed Folsom for his enduring support of Whitman and young Whitman scholars!
This was a particularly fun article for me to write (and a horrific bibliographical experience). It was a first venture into writing about one of my big hobbies, classical music, and I got to use an almost overwhelming variety of sources, including interviews I conducted with two tremendous opera singers, Nathan Gunn and Eric Owens. I also drew on baritone Thomas Hampson‘s considerable public speaking about this piece, thanks to the New York Philharmonic media staffer Katie Klenn, who really went the extra mile in shipping me DVDs of his talks.
The only thing I didn’t try to do was interview Adams, and now, as I look at the piece, I can’t think for the life of me why not. I did use his blog.
I chaired a panel called Archives of Memory and Erasure at the American Studies Association meeting in November 2012. We had a lively conversation about papers from Catherine Fung (Bentley, English) and Natasha Bissonauth (Cornell, Art History) and Chris Earle in absentia. I offered some remarks about various theories of memory and archives (but not erasure).
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.
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!
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.
“The Foreigner in Yoknapatawpha: Rethinking race in the global South” was published in a Philological Quarterly special issue: The New Southern Studies and the New Modernist Studies in Spring & Summer 2012 (90(2&3): 199-228).
Though it’s not a well-known fact, there was a small but very visible Chinese minority in Mississippi throughout the years of Faulkner’s active writing career, and one that came to national fame in a Supreme Court case about whether they should be put in white or black public schools. When Joe Christmas first arrives in Jefferson in Light in August, a sulky, light-colored man with no money and city clothing, the townsfolk label him a “foreigner.” His name and indefinable appearance allow him to exist in an undefined limbo between black and white until he transgresses social boundaries in both directions, unlike the lone Chinese man in The Town and the Chinese population in real life. Starting with the definition of foreignness in Light in August and reading through Intruder in the Dust (1948) and The Town (1957), I examine the role of the the Chinese as the most visible exponents of the foreign as a new party in Faulkner’s tortured generations of Southern history, comparing his surprisingly elastic social structures with the contemporaneous restrictions on the growing Chinese population in legal and social arenas. Gong Lum v. Rice (1927), the landmark Supreme Court case that turned away from the singular consideration of African Americans as the “colored race” to define the Chinese as one of the “colored races” resonates with the white supremacist in Light who asserts superiority over “any and all other races.” Ike McCaslin, one of Faulkner’s characters, voices hatred of the “spawning” and “breeding” Chinese, among other races, but even Faulkner’s extension of racial hysteria over miscegenation to include the Chinese who were moving into the Delta offers, as well, the possibility of eventual social intermixture and inclusion in his American South.
This article won PQ‘s annual Hardin Craig Prize for the article that has best advanced scholarship in its field.