On February 18, 1992 the United States Congress passed legislation establishing the Man-zanar National Historic Site, an act that would turn the neglected site of a former American concentration camp for Japanese Americans into a site of national remembrance for all Americans. This article discusses the legislative process involving Manzanar's designation as a National Historic Site and how it reveals the ongoing tendency to equate American Nikkei history with only the World War II period. The creation and subsequent interpretation of the site also highlighted the complications of identifying a place with only one layer of its history. The recognition and interpretation of Manzanar threatened the maintenance of local histories and led to contestations between California residents, Japanese Americans, the National Park Service, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Transfigured Patterns: Contesting Memories at the Manzanar National Historic Site
ROBERT T. HAYASHI is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, where he teaches Asian American literature and environmental history. He has published work on Japanese American literature and history and is particularly interested in the public history of American places. His interdisciplinary work combines both scholarly and creative writing to create accessible scholarship that reaches a wide range of readers.
ROBERT T. HAYASHI; Transfigured Patterns: Contesting Memories at the Manzanar National Historic Site. The Public Historian 1 November 2003; 25 (4): 51–71. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2003.25.4.51
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