Circuits of Internment Across Transpacific Camps during World War II

Authors: Juliet Nebolon*, Harvard University
Topics: Pacific Islands, Ethnicity and Race, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: Transpacific studies, settler colonialism, militarization, internment
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I analyze the U.S. internment of Indigenous peoples, Japanese immigrants, and prisoners of war across Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands during World War II. Decentering the historiographical focus on Japanese American internment as a domestic project of racialized exclusion that took place only in the continental United States, I explore the circulation of internees and prisoners of war between camps across the Pacific Ocean and the U.S. continent. I reconceptualize internment as embedded in a larger project of U.S. settler militarism: that is, the mutually constitutive projects of settler colonialism and militarization. I draw from U.S. military memorandums, correspondence, camp blueprints, and oral histories in order to illustrate how the administration of internment camps in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Islands differed from camps in the U.S. continent. Further, I analyze how U.S. security regulations in the Pacific theater governed the circulation of internees and prisoners of war between camps in Asia, Micronesia, Hawai‘i, and the U.S. continent. This paper argues that together, these transpacific camps formed multiple prongs of a heterogeneous internment project that alternately organized, defined, excluded, and assimilated racialized bodies in order to clear and secure land for U.S. military projects.

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