Arthur A. Hansen

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

culture en

Heart and Courage: A Nisei Veteran’s Story

As a visit to almost any American new or used bookstore will quickly confirm, military history is an exceedingly popular genre of literature. This is particularly the case as it pertains to World War II, including that of the heroic role played by Japanese American troops. For the most part, the particular role that has commanded primary attention in this connection has been the exploits of the segregated 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion in the European Theater. More recently, however, long overdue notice is increasingly being accorded the valorous efforts of ...

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war en

The Irony of Nikkei Citizenship During Mass Incarceration

Each spring semester, my wife, a professor in the online Information School at San José State University, team-teaches a course entitled “History of the Book.” One class assignment has students produce a historical paper about a local library of their choice. Since many of the students are from West Coast areas, often these papers deal with libraries serving communities whose Japanese American residents were uprooted and incarcerated during World War II. Had one of my wife’s past students opted to focus on the Redwood City Public Library, this person likely would have devoted some space to discussing its Karl ...

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Reconceptualizing the narrative of American art

I have always been intrigued by the titles authors select to represent their books, and most especially if they are as deftly apt as that ShiPu Wang has devised for the volume under review. Whereas the designation American moderns has customarily been used to depict such canonical white artists as Stuart Davis (1892-1964), Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) and John Marin (1870-1953), Wang devotes his critical attention to four American moderns of Japanese ancestry: Frank Matsura (1873-1913), Eitaro Ishigaki (1893-1958), Hideo Noda (1908-1939) and Miki Hayakawa (1899-1953). He resourcefully and strategically uses this quartet of “forgotten” minority artists ...

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identity en

Fathoming the ‘lessons and limits of history’

In his insightful Sept. 13, 2017 Christian Science Monitor review of Karen Tei Yamashita’s Letters to Memory, Terry Hong concluded with this appraisal: “Allusive, quirky, questioning, Letters is a challenging text . . . dense with assumptions of cultural literacy, community insight, historical background. . . . (However) don’t be deterred (as) Letters awaits your inquisitive participation and rewarding collaboration.” My own initial reading of this brilliant book, whose form and content reached well beyond my grasp, inclined me toward affirming Hong’s assessment. Before reading it a second time, however, I decided to listen to an engaging and illuminating interview with Yamashita about ...

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culture en

‘Jewel’ of a tribute to Heart Mountain

Sharon Yamato is truly a lovely person. She is also a lyrical writer, a seasoned journalist, a capable historian, a skilled interviewer, an accomplished curator and a talented filmmaker. The daughter of parents who were World War II prisoners in the Poston Relocation Center in Arizona, she was born after the war in the Japanese American resettlement community of Denver, Colo., and thereafter raised and educated in Los Angeles. While coming of age, Yamato shared with many others in the Sansei generation an unawareness of her family and racial-ethnic group’s unjust wartime exclusion and incarceration experience. In 1976, however ...

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