Little Things: The Uncanny Everyday of Internment Literature

Yoon Lee

in Modern Minority

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199915835
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199315956 | DOI:
Little Things: The Uncanny Everyday of Internment Literature

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Within the assembly centers and internment camps of World War II, Japanese Americans confronted the uncanny normalcy of the modern everyday. The project of internment sought to incorporate Japanese-Americans within a certain national vision, creating in the camps simulacra of “normal” American communities. In practice, the camps arose as flat, bare, but uncanny spaces, layered with the shapes and forms of the everyday. Internees discovered an everyday only intermittently perceivable as American, largely unmoored from place, progress, and meaning, and marked by a sense of minorness, inertia and opacity. It consists in the temporality of the “day to day,” the activity of waiting, the form of recurrence, and the ontology of thingness. The phrase “little things,” used by internees to describe both what signifies and what doesn’t, signals their ambivalence. Strange relationships between people and things proliferate, and human interiority becomes problematic.

Keywords: Japanese American; internment; uncanny; interiority; thingness; space

Chapter.  12976 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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