EXILE WITHIN: The Schooling of Japanese Americans, 1942-1945 by Thomas James

EXILE WITHIN: The Schooling of Japanese Americans, 1942-1945

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A detailed, scholarly report on the educational system that existed in the Japanese ""concentration camps"" of the western US during WW II. James (Educational Studies, Wesleyan Univ.) states that 30,000 of the 110,000 incarcerated Japanese were children, and argues that much can be gleaned both from how the government chose to educate these children, and how the youths themselves reacted--particularly in respect to the irony of children being taught the virtues of democracy while living in relocation camps strictly because of race. In many ways, this is the rosiest look yet at this American experiment in the deprivation of rights, certainly more so than Robert Drinnon's Keeper of Concentration Camps (1986). For as well as the deprivation, here we learn of idealistic educators who saw in the relocation centers the opportunity to forge ahead with their trade under the most difficult of circumstances. Also revealed is the traditional emphasis on education by the elderly Nisei, and the desire on the part of their children to stick to their books despite inadequate resources, a high teacher-turnover rate, and confusion over educational policy. James compares the cruel treatment of Japanese citizens by the Canadian government to the US pattern. In the US, ""military orders and civilian social policy overlapped; while both deprived the incarcerated population of rights, the latter offered services aimed at rehabilitation and eventual reincorporation into normal communities."" A breath of fresh air in a subject saturated with venom. Fifteen rare photographs from within the camps add interest to a book that should appeal to educators and students of the minority experience.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Harvard Univ. Press