USC’s Shinso Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture will present “The WWII Japanese American Resettlement: New Research Workshop” on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the East Asian Seminar Room (110C), Doheny Memorial Library, University Park Campus.
The resettlement from the War Relocation Authority (WRA) camps to the regions east of the Rockies and back to the Pacific Coast towards the war’s end is a critical, yet understudied aspect of the Japanese American community during and immediately after World War II. With scholars, filmmakers, and community-based historians, this workshop is a sharing of work-in-progress on how Japanese Americans resettled in Los Angeles and Chicago.
Session I: Historiography and Sources for the Study of “Resettlement”
• Dispersal, Renewal, and the Roots of a ‘Model Minority’: A Historiography of Japanese American ‘Resettlement’ and Return — Brian Niiya (Densho)
• “From the National Archives to Local Libraries: ‘Finding Home Again’ and the Archives on Resettlement in Los Angeles” — Kristen Hayashi (Japanese American National Museum)
• “Cautionary Tales, Found Images and Missing Gaps: Lessons Learned from Life After Manzanar Photographic Survey” — Naomi Hirahara (author)
Session II: Resettlement in the Midwest
• “What Happens to a Dream Conferred?: Japanese American Race, Place, and Space in Chicago, 1945-1965” — Lisa Doi (community activist)
• “Centering the Midwest in the Resettlement Narrative: Recent Public History Initiatives in Chicago” — Ryan Yokota (Japanese American Service Committee)
• “The Role of Narrative Film in Education: Making JA Chicago Resettlement Resonate with a 5th-Grader” — Jason Matsumoto (producer, Full Spectrum Features)
Lisa Doi is the president-elect of the Japanese American Citizens’ League, Chicago Chapter. She is an alumna of JACL Chicago’s Kansha Project, a youth leadership program rooted in WWII incarceration history, and is active in shaping the organization’s engagement of young Japanese Americans. In addition, she is an active member of Midwest Buddhist Temple and a trustee of North Shore Country Day School. Professionally, Doi is the research and evaluation manager at IFF, doing program evaluation and research on projects and cities across the Midwest.
She received a B.A. in anthropology and urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A. in social science from the University of Chicago, where her research focused on the resettlement and dispersal patterns of Japanese Americans to Chicago after their World War II incarceration.
Brian Niiya is the content director at Densho and editor of the online Densho Encyclopedia. His professional life has been dedicated to Japanese American public history and information management, having held various positions with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, the Japanese American National Museum, and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i that have involved managing collections, curating exhibitions, developing public programs, and producing videos, books, and websites.
He has also written widely read newspaper columns for The Rafu Shimpo, Nikkei West, and Pacific Citizen and edited “The Encyclopedia of Japanese American History,” published in 1993 with a second edition in 2000. He was born and raised in Southern California and recently moved back to Los Angeles after having lived in Honolulu from 1996 to 2008.
Kristen Hayashi oversees the permanent collection at the Japanese American National Museum. Additionally, she is a Ph.D. candidate in history at UC Riverside, where she is currently engaged in the study of public history, Asian American studies, and the history of Los Angeles. Her dissertation research examines the return and resettlement of Japanese Americans in post-WWII Los Angeles. She holds an M.A. in history from UC Riverside and a B.A. in American studies from Occidental College.
Hayashi is a public historian with experience ranging from being part of the curatorial team for “Becoming Los Angeles,” a semi-permanent exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, to writing a local historic cultural monument nomination, to being on the board of directors for the Little Tokyo Historical Society and the Historical Society of Southern California.
Naomi Hirahara, a former editor of The Rafu Shimpo, is an award-winning author of both nonfiction and fiction. “Life after Manzanar,” which she co-wrote with Heather Lindquist, was released by Heyday in April 2018. Among her other history books are “Terminal Island: The Lost Communities of Los Angeles Harbor” (Angel City Press), which has received several awards, including the Bruckman Award for Excellence from the Los Angeles Public Library; “A Scent of Flowers: The History of the Southern California Flower Market, 1912-2004”; and “Green Makers: Japanese American Gardeners in Southern California.”
She is also the Edgar Award-winning author of two mystery series set in Los Angeles. Her Mas Arai series, which features a Hiroshima survivor and gardener, has been translated into Japanese, Korean and French. The first in her Officer Ellie Rush bicycle cop series received the 2014 T. Jefferson Parker Mystery Award. Her first Mas Arai novel, “Summer of the Big Bachi,” is being developed into an independent film. She is working on a historical thriller set in Chicago in the 1940s. As a curator of historical exhibitions; she was employed by Lindquist’s Harvest Moon Studios to provide content for the Manzanar Visitors Center. She received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and studied at the Inter-University Center for Advanced Japanese Studies in Tokyo. For more information, go to www.naomihirahara.com.
Jason Matsumoto is a fourth-generation Japanese American from Chicago. He is the president of the board as well as a producer at Full Spectrum Features, a Chicago-based film production nonprofit with a mission to increase diversity in front of and behind the camera. He is also the director and composer for Ho Etsu Taiko, a Chicago-based music ensemble that blends the deep-rooted culture of Japanese American taiko with influences that inspire and cultivate the diversity of its performing members.
Matsumoto earned a business degree from the University of Washington in Seattle and spent one year in Japan as a study-abroad student attending Sophia University in Tokyo. Prior to becoming a film producer, he spent 10 years at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange as a director on the firm’s strategic pricing team.
Ryan Masaaki Yokota is working as the Development and Legacy Center director at the Japanese American Service Committee and as an adjunct lecturer in East Asian history at DePaul University, both of which are in Chicago. Previously he received his Ph.D. in East Asian (Japanese) history at the University of Chicago and his M.A. in Asian American studies at UCLA. His dissertation, “Postwar Okinawan Nationalism(s): Independence, Autonomy, and Indigenousness, 1945-2008,” focused on issues of nationalism and sovereignty in Okinawa under both U.S. and Japanese occupation.
His recent publications include a book chapter “Reversion-Era Proposals for Okinawan Regional Autonomy” in “Rethinking Postwar Okinawa: Beyond American Occupation,” and an article, “The Okinawan (Uchinānchu) Indigenous Movement and Its Implications for Intentional/International Action,” published in Amerasia Journal. Previous publications included journal articles and book chapters on the Okinawan Peruvian community of Los Angeles, on the Japanese and Okinawan Cuban community, and on Pat Sumi, key figure in the Asian American Movement.