The enduring imagery of Japanese ‘Internment’ begins at this fence. The barbed wire, guard tower, and the barracks encompassed have become mnemonic encounters in their own right, saliently reminding a democracy of its own structural violence and state(s) of exception. Such imagery crucially challenges the historical ‘façade of benevolence’ that continues to permeate internment federal record. At the same time, these images perpetuate a contemporary understanding of the camp as somehow ‘outside’ of the national superstructure and thus excluded from the bureaucratic processes thereof. The components of this starter kit propose that this was not the case; rather, the ‘banalities’ of infrastructure and process were purposely rendered (hyper)visible to purposely envelop the questionable ethics of governmental detainment. What might we now learn by approaching these procedures through an infrastructural approach? What infrastructural provocations await within the fence?
This starter kit introduces users to the infrastructural underpinnings of the Japanese Incarceration camp by way of its construction, daily operations, and eventual preservation. Included texts introduce the historical and discursive ties between various New Deal agencies, racialized detention, and infrastructural labor implemented as a means of ‘democratization’ and surveillance. By providing such cross-disciplinary connections, this starter kit seeks to push back against the persistence of “bureaucratic amnesia” that too often omits agency participation from the ‘internment’s’ sociocultural record (Smith 65). Furthermore, in conjunction with representations of planning, construction, and maintenance performed under detainment, these texts encourage users to (re)consider the operative logics of both bureaucratic process and infrastructure itself.
Bennett, Jane. “The Force of Things: Towards an Ecology of Matter.” Political Theory 32, no. 3 (June 2004): 347-372. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0090591703260853.
Meiches, Benjamin. “A Political Ecology of the Camp.” Security Dialogue 46, no. 5 (2015): 476-492. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0967010615590752.
Star, Susan Leigh. “The Ethnography of Infrastructure.” American Behavioral Scientist 43, no. 3 (1999): 377–391. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00027649921955326.
Ngai, Mae N. Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014.
Eley, Geoff and Ronald Grigor Suny. “Introduction: From the Moment of Social History to the Work of Cultural Representation.” In Becoming National: A Reader, edited by Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) 3-37.
Parks, Kimberly Roberts. “Revisiting Manzanar: A History of Japanese American internment camps as presented in selected federal government documents 1941-2002.” Journal of Government Information 30 (2004): 575-593. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S135202370400070X?via%3Dihub.
Smith, Jason Scott. “New Deal Public Works at War: The WPA and Japanese American Internment.” Pacific Historical Review 72, no. 1 (2003): 63-92. https://online.ucpress.edu/phr/article-abstract/72/1/63/79418/New-Deal-Public-Works-at-War-The-WPA-and-Japanese?redirectedFrom=fulltext.
Hayashi, Brian Masaru. Democratizing the Enemy: The Japanese American Internment. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2004.
- Key Chapters:
- Chapter Three: Establishing the Structures of the Internment, from Limited to Mass Internment, 1942-1943
- Chapter Four: The Liberal Democratic Way of Management, 1942-1943
Morehouse, Lisa. “Farming Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese-Americans Remember WWII Incarceration,” NPR, February 19, 2017, https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/19/515822019/farming-behind-barbed-wire-japanese-americans-remember-wwii-incarceration.
Murray, Alice Yang. “The History of ‘Helpful’ Administrative Advisors and ‘Objective’ Researchers Within the Camps.” In Historical Memories of the Japanese American Internment and the Struggle for Redress. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007.
Starn, Orin. “Engineering Internment: Anthropologists and the War Relocation Authority.” American Ethnologist 13 no. 4 (Nov. 1986): 700-720. https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1525/ae.1986.13.4.02a00070.
Camp, Stacey Lynn. “Landscapes of Japanese American Internment.” Historical Archaeology 50, no. 1 (2016): 169-186. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03377183.
Clark, Bonnie J. “Digging Yesterday: The Archaeology of Living Memory at Amache.” In Historical Archaeology Through a Western Lens, edited by Mark Warner and Margaret Purser, 210-232. Nebraska: Nebraska University Press, 2017.
Hays, Frank. “The National Park Service: Groveling Sycophant or Social Conscience: Telling the Story of Mountains, Valley, and Barbed Wire at Manzanar National Historic Site.” The Public Historian 25, no. 4 (Fall 2003): 73-80. https://online.ucpress.edu/tph/article-abstract/25/4/73/89921/The-National-Park-Service-Groveling-Sycophant-or?redirectedFrom=fulltext.
The following gallery includes some administrative mediations of ‘internment’ processes, infrastructures, and traces, as well as some internee reflections thereof.
Temporary Placement: The Assembly Center
Indefinite Confinement: The Relocation Center
Preservation: The Interpretive Center