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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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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‘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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Documenting an evolving movement

In recognition of my modest role in the conception and organization of this stellar volume, I received a complimentary copy from Lane Hirabayashi, the lead editor for the robust NCRR editorial team (the others being Richard Katsuda, Kathy Masaoka, Kay Ochi, Suzy Katsuda, and Janice Iwanaga Yen). Along with the book, Hirabayashi attached a short note: “This project exemplifies what Asian American Studies is about for me. From, through, and reflecting grassroots knowledge.” Having had the good fortune to read a substantial portion of his prodigious scholarly output during his 35-year academic career at San Francisco State University, the University ...

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Complicat(i)ng the 'mosaic' of history

This impressive volume, published at the semi-centennial of Asian American studies, serves admirably as an authoritative marker of Asian American history’s coming of age. Edited by two stalwarts in the field, David K. Yoo and Eiichiro Azuma, it consists of a masterful overview introduction by them, plus 27 in-depth historiographical essays penned by leading scholars that are representative of this vibrant multifarious branch of U.S. history. All but one of these scholars are Asian Americans of various ethnicities, with the exception being notable Nichi Bei Weekly columnist Greg Robinson.

In addition to Robinson’s insightful essay on “Asian ...

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A Nikkei Incarceration Odyssey

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i (JCCH) has been responsible — in part — for publishing three remarkable books: Life behind Barbed Wire: The World War II Internment Memoirs of a Hawaii Issei (2008); Family Torn Apart: The Internment Story of the Otokichi Muin Ozaki Family (2012); and An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten (2017).

Taken together, these bountiful volumes have simultaneously achieved the following three ends: substantially enlarged the Japanese immigrant perspective on the World War II Japanese American detention experience; strategically incorporated the Hawai‘i Nikkei involvement in the heretofore mainland-dominated narrative of that experience; and considerably enriched the limited ...

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