During World War II, Japanese American scientists and engineers imprisoned at the Manzanar War Relocation camp were engaged in an experimental project to grow guayule and process it into latex, a needed war materiel. In this way, they contributed to the American war effort, despite their race-based incarceration. The guayule research project undermines the rationale for the wartime confinement of West Coast Japanese Americans. The laboratory at Manzanar partnered with universities, private industry, and government bureaucracy as an early instance of the military-industrial complex.
The Scientists and the Shrub: Manzanar’s Guayule Project and Incarcerated Japanese American Scientists
Jonathan van Harmelen is a Ph.D student in History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes primarily on Japanese American history and the legacies of the WWII Incarceration on American history. He has previously published in the Journal of Asian American Studies and the Journal of Urban History, and frequently contributes to various Japanese American newspapers. He is currently a columnist for DiscoverNikkei, the blog of the Japanese American National Museum. Previously, he assisted with exhibitions at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute, and currently is working on an exhibit for the Japanese American National Museum. His area of research includes U.S. history, Asian American history, and Public History.
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Jonathan van Harmelen; The Scientists and the Shrub: Manzanar’s Guayule Project and Incarcerated Japanese American Scientists. Southern California Quarterly 1 February 2021; 103 (1): 61–98. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/scq.2021.103.1.61
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