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75 years ago, courts upheld detention of Japanese Americans

August 31, 2017
Japanese American family with luggageMembers of the Mochida family in Hayward, California, wait for bus that will take them to an internment camp at the start of World War II. (National Archives)

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, about 120,000 people of Japanese descent living in the United States were forced to relocate to internment camps – even though the majority of them were American citizens. Their detainment was upheld by US courts on this day 75 years ago.

“Greater awareness of the Japanese-American internment can help the nation avoid repeating the conditions that led to violating the rights of so many innocent people,” says Joanne Bernardi, a University of Rochester expert on Japanese culture who helped organize an exhibit and lecture last year entitled “Looking Like the Enemy: The WWII Japanese American Experience.”

For more than 15 years, Bernardi, an associate professor of Japanese and of film and media studies, has been collecting postcards, brochures, films, and other visual and material culture related to Japan as part of scholarship investigating representations of Japan and its place in the world during the first half of the 20th century. Some of these collection items can be seen at Re-Envisioning Japan,  a digital humanities research project and interactive online archive developed over the past five years in collaboration with the Digital Scholarship Lab. Future plans for the newly launched second generation of the digital archive include a web-based publishing platform, Routes, that will promote object-based scholarship and pedagogy on Japan.

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Category: Society & Culture