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

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Nikkei Agriculture in Orange County, California, the Masuda Farm Family, and the American Way of Redressing Racism - Part 2 of 6

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Having now provided a snapshot of the pre-World War II Japanese American community in Orange County during the so-called “Issei Pioneer Era,” we need to shift our attention to the main focus of my presentation tonight, which I have titled “Nikkei Agriculture in Orange County, California, the Masuda Farm Family, and the American Way of Redressing Racism.”

Based on two oral history interviews done in 2006 with Masao “Mas” Masuda by, respectively, Susan Shoho Uyemura, for the Japanese American Living Legacy organization, and Takamichi Go, for the Center for Oral and Public History and the Garden Grove ...

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Nikkei Agriculture in Orange County, California, the Masuda Farm Family, and the American Way of Redressing Racism - Part 1 of 6

(Presentation at a public program in support of New Birth of Freedom: Civil War to Civil Rights in California at the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum, Fullerton Arboretum, California State University, Fullerton on October 19, 2011)

As we gather here this evening next to a building called the Orange County Agricultural and Nikkei Heritage Museum, we need to reflect on the integral relationship between the history of Orange County agriculture and that of the county’s Americans of Japanese ancestry.

And while doing so, we should keep in mind that the Masuda family of Orange County was a ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 7 of 7

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The early 1980s activity had ramifications for Omura, who had been “reborn in Seattle.”1 Hohri invited him to speak in Chicago and there avail himself of research material amassed by NCJAR (for which he, along with other notable wartime resisters like Harry Ueno, became a substantial backer)2 for his in-progress memoir.

San Francisco and Los Angeles vernaculars commissioned Omura to write editorials,3 while UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center wooed his participation in conferences and panels and solicited him to review books for the Amerasia Journal (including Hosokawa’s JACL in Quest of Justice ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 6 of 7

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Between Hosokawa’s Nisei in 1969 and his East to America in 1980, American society and culture, including the Nikkei community, underwent a tumultuous upheaval. As the mounting protests against the Vietnam War, racism, and sexism evinced, passivity and obedience to authority had ceased being admired.

Historians were drawn to outspoken individuals and activist groups who had stood up for social justice and enlarged democratic rights. Moreover, they used this tradition of dissent to promote contemporary developments and personalities. Conversely, they subjected the past’s sacred cows—whether individuals, institutions, movements, or events—to rigorous and skeptical ...

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Peculiar Odyssey: Newsman Jimmie Omura’s Removal from and Regeneration within Nikkei Society, History, and Memory - Part 5 of 7

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Omura’s retreat eliminated a formidable counterweight to the JACL’s hegemonic hold over Japanese Denver’s public life. The existence of a large, active JACL chapter, along with a favorable press to promote its agenda and social gospel, ensured that the organization would prevail. How the immediate Japanese American past would be configured within (and outside of) Denver’s Nikkei community was also discernible.

The basic lesson for Nikkei to learn from their wartime history, as adumbrated by Yasui, was that, unlike most other Americans, they needed to fulfill obligations like military service before their civil ...

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