Arthur A. Hansen

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

war en

Inmates’ historical narratives for the layperson

Back in 1980, very little had been written about the World War II imprisonment experience of more than 5,500 Japanese American aliens (Issei) within the hodgepodge of 24 U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Army concentration camps as against what some 120,000 aliens and Nisei/Sansei citizens of Japanese ancestry underwent in the 10 War Relocation Authority-administered concentration camps. Accordingly, the former confinement sites were often carelessly dismissed as “those other camps.”

During the succeeding 40 years, a profusion of studies — the most comprehensive of which was Tetsuden Kashima’s Judgment Without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment during World War II (2003) …

Read more

migration en

Bridging Historical Traditions

In recent years historians have increasingly moved away from writing about the history of a single nation state, so-called mononational history, to writing an innovative variety of international history known as transnational history. Unlike traditional international history, which focused on the formal relations between two nation-states, this new form of historical inquiry seeks instead to illuminate how the events and developments that occurred within two countries overlapped and interpenetrated one another. Unfortunately, such an approach has been at a discount in Asian American and Japanese American historical scholarship. Nonetheless, one brilliant practitioner of these historical subfields, Eiichiro Azuma of the …

Read more

war en

Nisei is propelled to share firsthand accounts of camp

In 2019, Paramount released the biopic feature film on British rock singer Elton John entitled Rocketman. Sam Mihara’s slender and well-written autobiographical book, Blindsided, also showcases the life of a rocket man. It, too, could have been titled Rocketman. After all, upon completing his undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees at the University of California, Berkeley and UCLA, Mihara enjoyed a distinguished 42-year career at Boeing as a rocket scientist.

Then, 14 years after his 1997 retirement, he forged a new career, one which saw him rocketing around the entire country giving talks about mass incarceration in the …

Read more

war en

The ins and outs of redress

The topic of the Japanese American Redress Movement has been abundantly rewarded by its parade of prominent chroniclers. Those authored or edited volumes which I have been privileged to read, and in some cases, to critically review, are: William Minoru Hohri, Repairing America: An Account of the Movement for Japanese American Redress (1988); Leslie T. Hatamiya, Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and the Passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 (1993); Yasuko I. Takezawa, Breaking the Silence: Redress and Japanese American Ethnicity (1995); Mitchell T. Maki, Harry H. L. Kitano, and S. Megan Berthold, Achieving the Impossible Dream: How …

Read more

migration en

Yamato Colony: A Japanese Village in Southern Florida

When asked to review Yamato Colony: The Pioneers Who Brought Japan to Florida for the Discover Nikkei site, I was delighted to oblige for two main reasons. The first was my passionate interest as a historian in Japanese American communities outside of those well-known and amply documented ones on the West Coast. This interest was catalyzed by my participation in the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)-sponsored REgenerations Oral History Project (1997-2000), which encompassed World War II and postwar Nikkei resettlement in midwestern Chicago (as well as three California cities). A few years later, my interest was fanned into flames …

Read more

Series this author contributes to