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). 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 the coedited volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018).

Updated June 2018

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T. Scott Miyakawa–Part 2: Nisei Academic and Activist

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If the professional vicissitudes that T. Scott Miyakawa encountered in his earlier years can be said to represent the trials of the Nisei generation, his later career encapsulates the rise of elite Nisei in the postwar period. During these years, Miyakawa became a respected and much-travelled scholar. Like his exact contemporary, S.I. Hayakawa, he refused to be pigeonholed simply as a specialist on Asian Americans, and he threw himself into studying a variety of topics. However, unlike Hayakawa, who maintained his distance from Japanese communities and opposed ethnic organizations, Miyakawa retained a community focus, and devoted ...

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T. Scott Miyakawa–Part 1: Struggles of a Young Nisei

T. Scott Miyakawa, a sociologist and historian, was one of the most talented and successful of the first generation of Nisei academics. His early career nonetheless dramatizes the various obstacles that Nisei were forced to endure, and the compromises they made to succeed.

Born in Los Angeles on November 23, 1906, Tetsuo Scott Miyakawa was the eldest of three children of Yukio Miyakawa, a gardener, and his wife Rin. His younger brother, Tatsuo Arthur Miyakawa, was a graduate of Harvard University and Boalt Hall law school who taught economics at UCLA and Japanese at Georgetown University during the 1930s before ...

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They’ve come a Long Way: Chinese American Support for Japanese Americans in World War II

One aspect of Japanese American history that has been increasingly explored in recent times is the complex and revealing question of relations between Nikkei and other racial and religious minority groups over the 20th century. For example, Scott Kurashige’s The Shifting Grounds of Race examines the contrasting conditions facing Japanese Americans and African Americans in Los Angeles, and their varied (and sometimes competing) efforts to overcome discrimination. Ellen Eisenberg’s The First to Cry Down Injustice? covers the reaction of Jewish Americans in the Western states to the wartime removal of Japanese Americans.

However, rather less seems to have ...

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A Family Saga: The Remarkable History of the Ito Sisters of Prewar Chicago

One intriguing aspect of Japanese American history is the study of some remarkable families and clans, which have included generations of siblings and cousins who have achieved renown in varying fields. For example, the Oyama family of Sacramento included the businessmen Wesley Oyama and Clem Oyama, writers Mary Oyama Mittwer and Joe Oyama, and the artist Lillie Oyama Sasaki (wife of physician-poet Yasuo Sasaki). The Tajiri family has produced multiple generations of journalists, writers, artists, and photographers, including siblings Larry, Vince, Yoshiko, and Shinkichi and their descendants. The siblings of the Uno family included the journalists Kazumaro Buddy Uno and ...

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The Man Behind the Camera: The story of Yoichi Okamoto, LBJ's Shadow

Since the early days of the camera, photography has enjoyed a particular vogue in Japan. Long before the stereotyped tourist groups snapping pictures arrived on the international scene, Japanese photographers had demonstrated their talent. Japanese brands such as Olympus, Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Pentax, and Fujifilm, all firms originally founded during the interwar years, came to dominate the international film and camera market by the end of the 20th century.

While it is not clear how direct an influence Japanese shutterbugs exercised on overseas Nikkei communities, photography remained a prominent interest of those in the United States. Numerous Japanese Americans operated ...

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