Americanization and Christianization

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:
Americanization and Christianization

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This chapter first examines the vital role of camp schools in Americanizing imprisoned Japanese American children and adults. Second, it looks at a particular set of popular representations that traded on a long-standing American creation myth—the pioneer narrative—and that was taken up and partially transformed by Japanese Americans of an assimilationist bent. This is set against the innumerable obstacles to Buddhist practice in the camps described in the third section. Finally, the chapter probes the more explicitly religious components of Americanization and the leadership positions that Japanese American women took in those campaigns. Only by putting all these factors into conversation and by examining their gendered dimensions can we begin to understand the mutually constituting and mutually reinforcing the quality of their relationships. For if members of cultural outgroups were to be certified as truly American, they had to perform any number of rituals and practices not always associated with the imperatives of the nation-state: a schooling in its protocols; a drawing out of its metaphors and structuring narratives; and a worshipping in its mission, seen as divinely ordained.

Keywords: camp schools; Japanese Americans; assimilation; women; pioneer narrative

Chapter.  9476 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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