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

culture en

Shinkichi Tajiri and the Paradoxes of Japanese American Identity

Although Shinkichi Tajiri was born and spent his early years in the United States, and served in the US army during World War II as part of the renowned “Go for Broke” 442nd Regimental Combat Team, he is best known for his work as an artist in Europe. In fall 1948 Shinkichi Tajiri sailed to France. He remained in Europe in “self-imposed exile,” as he later termed it, for the rest of his life. At first, he lived in Paris. However, at the end of the 1950s, with his wife Ferdi, a Dutch woman, he moved to the Netherlands. Some ...

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war en

Ken Magazine and Prewar anti-Japanese Propaganda

One of the larger causes of Executive Order 9066, and the U.S. government’s wartime confinement of Japanese Americans, can be found in the widespread expressions of race-based fear and suspicion against West Coast Issei and Nisei in the years before Pearl Harbor. During these years hate merchants, both on the West Coast and beyond, repeatedly accused Japanese Americans of being spies and saboteurs for Tokyo—launching their charges on the flimsiest of evidence or no evidence at all.

As I reported in my book A Tragedy of Democracy (2009), during this period the well-known evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson ...

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community en

Paul Takagi: A fearless Advocate

Many notable events of 1969—the first landing on the Moon, the Woodstock Rock Festival, the Stonewall Riots, and the New York Mets World Series victory, among others—have been the subject of widespread commemoration lately, as their respective 50th anniversaries dawn and people take stock of the diverse legacies of that monumental year. Asian American Studies scholars, for their part, are now celebrating the 50th anniversary of the birth of the field. Popular attention has tended to focus on the student strikes at San Francisco State University that ushered in the first Ethnic Studies programs there. Less known is ...

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culture en

Teru Shimada - a Japanese American Pioneer in Hollywood - Part 1

One of the great leading men of motion picture history was Sessue Hayakawa, whose magnetic good looks and style captivated audiences around the world. Hayakawa and his wife Tsuru Aoki were top stars in Hollywood during the silent film era. However, with the coming of sound film, their careers declined. Hayakawa left Hollywood for a generation, made movies in France and Japan, then returned to the United States after World War II to play character parts, most notably his Oscar-nominated performance in the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai. Aoki, who retired from screen acting in the mid-1920s, did ...

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Teru Shimada - a Japanese American Pioneer in Hollywood - Part 2

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In summer 1945, while still confined at Poston, Teru Shimada was cast as a Filipino scout in a war propaganda film for 20th Century Fox, to be entitled “American Guerilla in the Philippines.” (Production of the film was set for Puerto Rico, because its beaches and terrain were considered to resemble those of the Philippines). However, once Japan surrendered and the war ended in late summer 1945, the project was shelved indefinitely. Shimada later claimed that he was summoned back to Hollywood by a telegram from Paul Wilkins, former casting director at MGM, and that he swiftly ...

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