Chapter

Race, War, Dances

in Concentration Camps on the Home Front

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780226354767
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226354774 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226354774.003.0006
Race, War, Dances

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Since the 442nd Regimental Combat Team trained in neighboring Mississippi, Japanese American women were regularly bused across the state line, for wholesome, racially partitioned dating and matrimony, signaling a new era of state-sanctioned courtship and institutionalized heterosexuality. These USO-sponsored events crystallized the paradox of incarceration and military service. And most women resisted. This chapter elaborates two vital but often neglected aspects of Japanese American experience, which help to clarify the paradox of incarceration and war service, as well as the complex identifications and affiliations crafted by all persons of Japanese descent in wartime America. To probe the slippery gray area between resistance and accommodation, it first considers the highly contingent, localized nature of racial categorization, especially given many Japanese Americans' ability to repeatedly pass in and out of the camps, into southern communities often ill-equipped to enforce anything other than a single, biracial, black/white color line. Second, it acknowledges and articulates the distinctive circumstances of incarceration for Japanese American women.

Keywords: Japanese American women; USO; dating; courtship; matrimony; institutionalized heterosexuality; incarceration; racial categorization

Chapter.  10512 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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