Jonathan van Harmelen

Jonathan van Harmelen is currently a Ph.D student in history at UC Santa Cruz specializing in the history of Japanese-American incarceration. He holds a BA in history and French from Pomona College and an MA from Georgetown University. He can be reached at jvanharm@ucsc.edu.

Updated February 2020

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Saving the Voices of the Past: An Interview with Arthur Hansen

On June 4, 2022, the Japanese American National Museum will host an event in celebration of the publication of Yoshito Kuromiya’s edited memoir, Beyond the Betrayal: The Memoir of a World War II Japanese American Draft Resister of Conscience. As one of the few firsthand accounts of the Heart Mountain Draft Resisters, Kuromiya’s memoir is an important text that documents the personal views of one of the famed resisters. Beyond the Betrayal’s editor and distinguished historian Art Hansen, along with famed Sansei poet Lawson Inada, will join the Kuromiya family in a conversat…

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Daisuke Kitagawa: Civil Rights and Anti-Racism Activist — Part 2

Read Part 1 >> Throughout the postwar years, Reverend Kitagawa remained in Minneapolis, where he maintained an active voice in local affairs as an expert on race relations while working for the Federal Council of Churches. In February 1946, Professor Frank Rarig of the University of Minnesota interviewed Reverend Kitagawa for a local Minneapolis radio station. During the interview, Kitagawa referenced forced removal of Japanese Americans, stating that the community had faced wrongful persecution, but he praised the members’ successful adjustment to their new lives in Minneapolis.…

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Daisuke Kitagawa: Civil Rights and Anti-Racism Activist — Part 1

Throughout Japanese American history, a number of individuals have mobilized in response to incidents of racism facing their community. Along with calling for the end of anti-Japanese discrimination, a smaller number of Japanese American activists, of whom Yuri Kochiyama is perhaps the most prominent, have willingly connected their own experiences to broader issues of civil rights, by joining forces with African Americans. Several of these individuals have found their advocacy inspired by their spiritual duty to advocate for equal treatment of all races. Reverend Kyoshiro Tokunaga described t…

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Renaissance Artist and “Mad Man” – The Life of Shugo Seno

The world of Japanese American visual artists is diverse. Most art historians focus on the notable individuals, such as Chiura Obata and Isamu Noguchi (among others), who produced paintings and sculpture. However, absent from this narrative is the work of various Japanese American commercial artists who influenced American popular art. Chris Ishii and Robert Kuwahara, who worked on various camp newspaper comics, were only two of a group of Japanese American animators who worked for Walt Disney and helped shape the Disney look, before creating their own productions. Famed graphic artist S. Nei…

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Reverend Aaron Allen Heist – A Profile in Courage

On November 6, 1943, the California State Assembly’s Committee on the Japanese Problem convened in the small town of Santa Maria, California. Known throughout the state as an agricultural hub, Santa Maria and its twin town of Guadalupe had shared one of the state’s largest Japanese American agricultural communities until April 1942, when the government forced its members into camps under Executive Order 9066. At the November 1943 meeting, the committee, led by Assemblyman Chester Gannon, met with a group of local leaders to discuss the potential return of the Japanese American com…

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