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

migration en

Yamato Colony: A Japanese Village in Southern Florida

When asked to review Yamato Colony: The Pioneers Who Brought Japan to Florida for the Discover Nikkei site, I was delighted to oblige for two main reasons. The first was my passionate interest as a historian in Japanese American communities outside of those well-known and amply documented ones on the West Coast. This interest was catalyzed by my participation in the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)-sponsored REgenerations Oral History Project (1997-2000), which encompassed World War II and postwar Nikkei resettlement in midwestern Chicago (as well as three California cities). A few years later, my interest was fanned into flames ...

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culture en

Dysfunction and Sacrifice as Binding Ties

Andrew Lam, the author of the book under review, studied history at Yale University — where he graduated summa cum laude — and afterward became a retinal surgeon. His third book, Repentance, is a work of historical fiction that is debatably comparable to such classic works of this genre pertaining to the Japanese American historical experience as Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston’s Farewell to Manzanar (1973) and David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars (1994).

All three of these books are what I would characterize as “cinematic novels.” Two of them have already been made into motion pictures, in ...

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identity en

Counteracting 'Invisibility' Within the JA Community

This substantial volume is co-edited by two distinguished Nikkei practitioners of Japanese American studies, one a Japan-based anthropologist, Yasuko Takezawa of Kyoto University, and the other a U.S.-situated historian, Gary Okihiro of Columbia University.

Although this work is primarily targeted at other scholars and advanced university students within their common transpacific field of inquiry, its well-grounded and illuminating introduction, 14 essays, and 7 perspectival responses to the book’s contents have much to offer a general readership. At bottom, the mission of Trans-Pacific Japanese American Studies is to expand and enrich Japanese American studies by moving this sub-discipline ...

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migration en

Unearthing one family's history

The volume under review, the most recent of many documentary books by award-winning veteran independent researcher, writer, and producer Tom Coffman, characteristically incorporates historical themes pertaining to Hawai‘i. What makes Tadaima! I Am Home different, however, is that its focus is upon a Hawai‘i Nikkei family history as viewed from a multigenerational, transnational perspective.

Within its short compass, readers are provided with a fascinating five-generation exploration by Coffman of male Miwa family members extending from its fallen samurai progenitor in Meiji Era Japan, Marujiro Miwa (1850-1919), down through four sons of successive generations — all of whom are bound ...

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culture en

The truth behind religious freedom in Japan

Although only an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Jolyon Baraka Thomas has already published one remarkable book, Drawing on Tradition: Manga, Anime, and Religion in Contemporary Japan (University of Hawai‘i Press), and is presently working on a third book with the tentative title of “Difficult Subjects: Debating Religion and Public Education in Japan and the United States.” As for the volume under review here, Thomas’ second book, it is a brilliantly conceived, deeply researched, tightly argued, and elegantly composed comparative and transnational inquiry into the concept and practice of religious freedom, with particular emphasis ...

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