Concentration Camps on the Home Front: Japanese Americans in the House of Jim Crow

Concentration Camps on the Home Front: Japanese Americans in the House of Jim Crow

by John Howard
Pub. Date:
University of Chicago Press
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Concentration Camps on the Home Front: Japanese Americans in the House of Jim Crow

Without trial and without due process, the United States government locked up nearly all of those citizens and longtime residents who were of Japanese descent during World War II. Ten concentration camps were set up across the country to confine over 120,000 inmates. Almost 20,000 of them were shipped to the only two camps in the segregated South—Jerome and Rohwer in Arkansas—locations that put them right in the heart of a much older, long-festering system of racist oppression. The first history of these Arkansas camps, Concentration Camps on the Home Front is an eye-opening account of the inmates’ experiences and a searing examination of American imperialism and racist hysteria.

While the basic facts of Japanese-American incarceration are well known, John Howard’s extensive research gives voice to those whose stories have been forgotten or ignored. He highlights the roles of women, first-generation immigrants, and those who forcefully resisted their incarceration by speaking out against dangerous working conditions and white racism. In addition to this overlooked history of dissent, Howard also exposes the government’s aggressive campaign to Americanize the inmates and even convert them to Christianity. After the war ended, this movement culminated in the dispersal of the prisoners across the nation in a calculated effort to break up ethnic enclaves.

Howard’s re-creation of life in the camps is powerful, provocative, and disturbing. Concentration Camps on the Home Front rewrites a notorious chapter in American history—a shameful story that nonetheless speaks to the strength of human resilience in the face of even the most grievous injustices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226354767
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/15/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 356
Sales rank: 1,326,875
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


Unnatural but Not Un-American

Not American, Not Again

Human Differences, Human Rights

1. Expansion and Restriction

Christian Empire

Self-Sufficiency, Sandalwood, and Sugar

White Citizenship, Racial Hierarchy

2. Subversion

Perverse Sexuality

House Un-American Activities

Segregation versus Extermination

3. Concentration and Cooperation

Collective Living

Cooperative Enterprises

Competitive Sports

Participatory Democracy

4. Camp Life

Gendered Spaces

Caucasian Environments

Unusual Places

5. Race, War, Dances

Complicating the Color Line

Courting within the Color Lines

Authorizing Gender Roles

6. Americanization and Christianization

Schooling in the Nation

Drawing Out the Nation

Safeguarding Buddhism

Worshipping of the Nation

7. Strikes and Resistance

Disputes over Pay and Conditions

The Woodcutters Strike and the Death of Seizo Imada

The Motor Repair Strike

The General Strike and the Death of Haruji Ego

8. Segregation, Expatriation, Annihilation

Neither a Trial nor Inquisition

Tule Lake


9. Resettlement and Dispersal

Normal American Communities

The Suicide of Julia Dakuzaku

Plantation versus Cooperative Colony

10. Occupation and Statehood

Adopting the American Way

Queering the Empire

Rock ’n’ Roll and Redemption


Democracy Is for the Unafraid

Clichés of American Happiness





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