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Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens

Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens: Hikaru Iwasaki and the WRA's Photographic Section, 1943-1945

Lane Ryo Hirabayashi
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens
    Book Description:

    Photographs by Hikaru C. IwasakiForeword by the Honorable Norman Y. MinetaInJapanese American Resettlement through the Lens, Lane Ryo Hirabayashi gathers a unique collection of photographs by War Relocation Authority photographer Hikaru Iwasaki, the only full-time WRA photographer from the period still living.

    With substantive focus on resettlement - and in particular Iwasaki's photos of Japanese Americans following their release from WRA camps from 1943 to 1945 - Hirabayashi explores the WRA's use of photography in its mission not only to encourage "loyal" Japanese Americans to return to society at large as quickly as possible but also to convince Euro-Americans this was safe and advantageous. Hirabayashi also assesses the relative success of the WRA project, as well as the multiple uses of the photographs over time, first by the WRA and then by students, scholars, and community members in the present day.

    Although the photos have been used to illustrate a number of publications, this book is the first sustained treatment addressing questions directly related to official WRA photographs. How and under what conditions were they taken? Where were they developed, selected, and stored? How were they used during the 1940s? What impact did they have during and following the war?

    By focusing on the WRA's Photographic Section,Japanese American Resettlement through the Lensmakes a unique contribution to the body of literature on Japanese Americans during World War II.

    eISBN: 978-0-87081-971-1
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Sociology, History
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES (pp. ix-x)
  4. FOREWORD Japanese American Resettlement: A Personal Story (pp. xi-xvi)

    The publication of this book is a milestone, if only because the history of Japanese American “resettlement” is relatively unknown. Through its text and fascinating photos,Japanese American Resettlement through the Lenssheds a great deal of light on what this process was all about, from the point of view of both the Japanese Americans who experienced it firsthand and the federal bureaucrats who carried it out. For many Japanese Americans who were incarcerated, including my own family, resettlement began as women, men, and families left camp during and after World War II.

    As one of five children in a...

  5. Preface (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. CHAPTER ONE Introduction (pp. 1-6)

    This book has two primary aims. The first is to describe the War Relocation Authority’s use of photography as part and parcel of its primary bureaucratic mission to pressure “loyal” Japanese Americans in its camps to return to the larger society as quickly as possible.¹ The second aim is to assess the WRA Photographic Section’s output.

    Our analytic approach to WRAPS photo work has two related dimensions. One is to evaluate critically the overall contribution of the WRA’s Photographic Section to the resettlement process from 1943 to 1945, the key years in which the WRAPS was in operation. This is...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Policy and Production of WRAPS Photographs (pp. 7-36)

    From the beginning of the WRA’s program, plans were in place to photograph the mass removal, initial concentration, longer-term incarceration, and release of Japanese Americans. As early as 1942, the stated purpose of this record was to document every step of the process. Authorities in charge of the incarceration also realized early on that pictures were needed for public relations purposes.¹

    Our analysis of the archival records, along with the secondary literature, indicates that the photographic mission changed over time. It is thus convenient to divide WRA photo operations into two phases. What I am calling Phase One started in...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Hikaru Iwasaki’s Resettlement Photos, 1943–1945 (pp. 37-44)

    By the time he retired in the 1990s, Carl Iwasaki had reached the peak of the photojournalism profession. When I first visited his home, he showed me some of his featured photographs in magazines likeLife, People, Sports Illustrated, andTime.¹ A number of his shots are iconic and include pieces like the 1961 photograph showing a shadow of two teenagers enjoying a kiss.

    Now in his eighties, Iwasaki can look back on a lifetime of creative work. As a staff photographer who also worked on assignment, he traveled all over the world and covered all kinds of stories. He...

  9. WRA Photographs (pp. 45-166)
  10. CHAPTER FOUR Assessment (pp. 167-172)

    Although resettlement was the key mission of the WRA by 1943, it is significant that the Authority made no effort during its lifetime to highlight the way that it was using public relations, including photography, to implement its policies. Nor, in fact, did the WRA make a serious effort, either during the war or after, to evaluate how the WRAPS photos were received by Japanese Americans and the public at large.¹ In retrospect, however, we can use measures to at least partially assess the impact of the WRA photo campaign. Although these indices are indirect, they offer relevant evidence for...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Reflections (pp. 173-198)

    Beyond heightening the possibilities for critical evaluation of the WRAPS photos, what ramifications does this analysis offer? There may in fact be an enduring value to the WRAPS photographs, whatever their historical origins were. If my analysis of the performative nature of WRAPS work is accurate, then I submit that the photos by themselves have no necessary or inherent meaning.

    Even if the WRAPS images bear the traces of power that overdetermined their social relations of production in the first place, there is no reason the photos cannot be appropriated and redeployed for new purposes and with new visions in...

  12. Notes (pp. 199-208)
  13. Glossary (pp. 209-210)
  14. References Cited (pp. 211-214)
  15. About the Authors (pp. 215-216)
  16. Index (pp. 217-222)