Oral History, Resistance, and the World War II Japanese American Social Disaster (Nikkei in the Americas)
by Arthur A. Hansen
Barbed Voices is an engaging anthology of the most significant published articles written by the well-known and highly respected historian of Japanese American history Arthur Hansen, updated and annotated for contemporary context. Featuring selected inmates and camp groups who spearheaded resistance movements in the ten War Relocation Authority administered compounds in the United States during World War II, Hansen's writing provides a basis for understanding why, when, where, and how some of the 120,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans opposed the threats to themselves, their families, their reference groups, and their racial-ethnic community.
What historically was benignly termed the "Japanese American Evacuation" was, in fact, a social disaster, which, unlike a natural disaster, is man-made. Examining the emotional implications of targeted systemic incarceration, Hansen highlights the psychological traumas that transformed Japanese American identity and culture for generations after the war. While many accounts of Japanese American incarceration rely heavily on government documents and analytic texts, Hansen's focus on first-person Nikkei testimonies gathered through powerful oral history interviews gives expression to the resistance to this social disaster.
Analyzing the evolving historical memory of the effects of wartime incarceration, Barbed Voices presents a new scholarly framework of enduring value. It will be of interest to students and scholars of oral history, US history, public history, and ethnic studies as well as the general public interested in the WWII experience and civil rights.