Date of Award

Spring 5-23-2021

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

English

First Advisor

Wendy Moffat

Language

English

Abstract

Japanese American Incarceration during World War II, often referred to as “internment,” remains a dark part of United States history. This paper explores three memoirs by Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans: I Call to Remembrance by Toyo Suyemoto, Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family, and Citizen 13660, by Miné Okubo. All three memoirs center on each woman’s incarceration experience from the Nisei perspective and illuminate the tension, confusion, liminality, and power of the Nisei identity. Through close readings of Suyemoto, Uchida, and Okubo, this paper analyzes each memoirist’s exploration of being both Japanese and American and how each woman’s reckoning with her Nisei identity translated through her camp experiences. This paper examines the connection between the Nisei identity’s liminality and its power and links the complexities of each woman’s incarceration experience with identity questions of young Japanese Americans living today.

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