Greg Robinson

Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016), as well as coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). Robinson is also coeditor of the volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018). His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson’s latest book is an anthology of his columns, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020).

Updated September 2020

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Foujita Discovers the Americas: An Artist's Tour - Part 2

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After his stays in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, and Cuba, Tsuguharu Foujita resumed his round-the-world tour. In November 1932, he arrived in Mexico City. As an international celebrity in the art world, he was already well-known to Mexican art lovers. As early as 1922, his work had been the subject of a feature article in the newspaper Excelsior, “Foujita, Un grande y extraño artista japones, muy apludido en Paris.” [Foujita, A great and strange Japanese artist, Greatly applauded in Paris].

Foujita originally intended to stay in Mexico City for only one month, and to visit with ...

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Foujita Discovers the Americas: An Artist's Tour - Part 1

The name of Léonard Foujita (AKA Tsuguharu Foujita) has lost much of its luster today. However, in his heyday in Paris in the 1920s, Foujita was not only the most celebrated Japanese artist in the world, but (along with Hollywood star Sessué Hayakawa) arguably the most famous living person of Japanese ancestry.

Born Tsuguharu Fujita in Japan in 1886, the son of a Japanese general, in 1913 he left Japan to seek his career as a painter in Paris (where he changed the spelling of his name to “Foujita” and most often went by his last name alone).

Although ...

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Kin was Much More than Kind: The Japanese Student Who Transformed Maryville

Kin Takahashi, a Japanese student at Maryville College in Eastern Tennessee at the turn of the 20th century, attracted nationwide attention for his achievements on campus. In the succeeding century, he stood as a legendary figure at his alma mater. As is often the case with legends, separating fact from fiction can be a difficult business.

Kin Takahashi was born in Yamaguchi, Japan, around the time of the Meiji Restoration, and grew up in the town of Hiramochi. Just when he was born is a matter of dispute. He was somewhere in his late teens when he migrated to the ...

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Bunji Omura – New York Japanese Antifascist Writer and Publicist

Although the saga of the Issei generation has been written by a number of historians, our understanding the views of Issei writers and thinkers on Japan is still incomplete. While the work of Eiichiro Azuma delves into the connections of the Issei to Japanese expansionism and the rise of militaristic nationalism, few have examined their counterparts who spoke out publicly against Japan’s move toward fascism, and who defended democracy. One such voice was that of Bunji Omura.

Bunji Omura was born in 1896 in Takakura, Fukuoka, Japan. Although his parents were farmers, his family belonged to a long line ...

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Ayako Ishigaki: Radical Issei Feminist Writer in Mid-Century America

In the years surrounding World War II, the Japanese-born writer and progressive activist Ayako Ishigaki lived in exile in New York and Los Angeles. During this time, she concentrated on opposing Japanese militarism. In lecture tours around the United States that she made alongside Chinese colleagues, she scored the Japanese occupation of China and called for boycotts of Japanese goods.

Ishigaki was equally forceful as an author, most notably of the semi-fictionalized memoir Restless Wave, published in 1940 under the pen name Haru Matsui. The book described her struggle for independence as a woman within Japan’s rigidly hierarchical and ...

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