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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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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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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Brother Theophane Walsh

In November 2018, the New York Times wrote an article highlighting the work of Father Ruskin Piedra, the priest of the church Our Lady of Perpetual Help in New York City.1 At 84, he busies himself with supporting litigation on behalf of immigrants - some from his own parish - to protect them from deportation. Amid the dreadful news of family separation and confinement of children in detention centers, Father Piedra’s work is a hopeful reminder that despite the callousness of the current administration’s policies in regard to immigrants and human rights, there are those working to help them ...

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Ways and Means: The Woman Behind The Moved-Outers

In the face of the tragic events of official confinement and loss that Japanese Americans experienced during World War II, there were numerous non-Japanese who found ways to help Issei and Nisei, or who protested their official treatment. A number of years ago, the Board of Directors of the Military Intelligence Service Association of Northern California approved the founding of the Kansha project to commemorate these individuals, whom one might call the “righteous gentiles” of Japanese America. Writer and activist Shizue Seigel wrote the intriguing book In Good Conscience, which told some of their stories. I have been interested to ...

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