Staging the Trauma of Japanese American Internment
This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book’s main themes. This book posits the importance of understanding the structural trauma of internment as located in the spectacularization imposed upon Japanese Americans by the U.S. government and mass media during World War II. By spectacularizing the disenfranchisement and imprisonment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans, the U.S. government and mass media denied the gravity of what was taking place and disavowed the psychological suffering and material violence perpetrated against a persecuted ethnic minority. The book further argues that by framing the evacuation and internment as spectacles, the United States positioned the American public as passive spectators to the unconstitutional treatment of their ethnic Japanese neighbors and, simultaneously, cast the public as heroic “patriots” opposite Japanese Americans, who were cast in one of two thankless roles: expressionless automata or melodramatic villains.
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