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

culture en

A Union of Artists: Kimi Gengo and Bunji Tagawa - Part 2

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Kimi Gengo Tagawa achieved early renown for her poetry, winning prizes and publishing a volume of verse while still in her twenties. Conversely, the long artistic career of her husband, Bunji Tagawa, did not take off until after his thirtieth birthday.

Bunji Tagawa was born in Japan on August 13, 1904. Daikichiro Tagawa, his father, was a Japanese Christian lawyer, journalist, and statesman who later served as president of Meiji University. The elder Tagawa served multiple terms in the Diet as an independent representative from his native Nagasaki, and became renowned for his liberal and progressive views ...

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A Union of Artists: Kimi Gengo and Bunji Tagawa - Part 1

One useful study for understanding Japanese American history would focus on “power couples,” that is, spouses or long-term romantic partners who are both accomplished figures in their own right. Perhaps the classic case in this regard is that of the Inouyes. Daniel Inouye was U.S. Senator from Hawaii for half a century. Irene Hirano Inouye, his wife, was a community leader and the founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum. They made a formidable team.

On a more modest level, midcentury New York City, with its open, cosmopolitan culture, attracted a number of artistic and literary Nikkei power ...

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John McGilvrey Maki: A friendly Reminiscence

It was April 2004. I was attending an event at Columbia University in New York City. The organizers allotted us some extra time during the lunch break, and so I decided to go off and take a walk. I had worked at Columbia a decade earlier, and it was fun to explore the area around campus and see how the neighborhood had changed since then. It seemed that a number of the places I used to visit had vanished, but I was relieved to find that my favorite used bookshops on Amsterdam Avenue were still around, and I gladly went ...

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war en

Leonard Broom (AKA Leonard Bloom): Scholar/Activist and Defender of Japanese Americans - Part 2

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During the early postwar years, Dr. Leonard Bloom, Professor of Sociology at UCLA, was able to bring together scholarship and activism into creative synthesis, most notably on the question of Evacuation Claims. In 1947, as the JACL launched its campaign for compensation for losses by West Coast Japanese Americans as a result of mass exclusion, Bloom agreed to serve as an advisor. He meanwhile launched his own study of the loss question. In collaboration with his assistant and researcher Ruth Riemer, he conducted a survey of 206 Japanese American families, most of whom were living in a ...

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Leonard Broom (AKA Leonard Bloom): Scholar/Activist and Defender of Japanese Americans - Part 1

As is well known, in the wake of Executive Order 9066 and the roundup and confinement of West Coast Japanese Americans, a group of scholars and researchers at University of California, Berkeley created the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study, a multidisciplinary academic study on the migration, confinement, and resettlement of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The project, directed by sociologist Dorothy Swaine Thomas, received extensive funds through the University of California as well as from several private foundations. As a result, JERS was able to engage a large team of field researchers, Nisei and others, who worked in ...

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