This article explores the little-known history of Japanese American survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. By focusing on this particular group of survivors with a careful attention to their layered citizenship, national belonging, and gender identity, the article makes important connections between the history of the bomb and the history of immigration across the Pacific. U.S. survivors were both American citizens and immigrants with deep ties to Japan. Their stories expand our understanding of the bomb by taking it out of the context of the clash between nations and placing it in the lives of people who were not within a victors-or-victims dichotomy. Using oral histories with U.S. survivors, their families, and their supporters, the article reveals experiences, memories, and activism that have connected U.S. survivors to both Japan and the United States in person-centered, relatable ways. Moreover, the article brings to light under-explored aspects of Asian America, namely, significant intersections of former internees’ and bomb survivors’ experiences and the role of older women’s agency in the making of Asian American identity. In so doing, the article destabilizes the rigidly nation-bound understanding of the bomb and its human costs that has prevailed in the Pacific region.
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Research Article| August 01 2017
Surviving the Bomb in America: Silent Memories and the Rise of Cross-national Identity
Pacific Historical Review (2017) 86 (3): 472–509.
Naoko Wake; Surviving the Bomb in America: Silent Memories and the Rise of Cross-national Identity. Pacific Historical Review 1 August 2017; 86 (3): 472–509. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/phr.2017.86.3.472
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