Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens: Hikaru Carl Iwasaki and the WRA’s Photographic Section, 1943-1945 by Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, photographs by Hikaru Carl Iwasaki, foreword by Norman Y. Mineta [in Bloomsbury Review]
Amazingly, the War Relocation Authority (WRA), managed to generate some 17,000 photos of Americans of Japanese ancestry who spent the majority of the duration of World War II in prison camps for little more than looking like the enemy.
Of these photos, Hirabayashi looks at the experience of Japanese American resettlement – the process by which the unjustly imprisoned, but deemed “loyal” Americans were released from camps and reentered mainstream society – captured by self-taught photographer Hikaru Carl Iwasaki, who was hired by the WRA as a 19-year-old young man straight out of Heart Mountain prison camp. Hirabayashi, an Asian American Studies professor at UCLA, provides historical context behind the disturbingly smiling images of these wrongly persecuted Americans.
Tidbit: Lane Hirabayashi, together with photographer Hikaru Carl Iwasaki, will both be at the National Museum of American History on Saturday, September 19, 2009, for a Smithsonian APA Program event, “Japanese American Resettlement through the Lens.” Make sure to join us!