From Confinement to Containment
Japanese/American Arts during the Early Cold War
Publication: Feb 19
Publication: Feb 19
Publication: Feb 19
6 x 9
Examining the legacies of four Japanese and Japanese/American artists and writers in the postwar eraRead the Introduction (pdf).
During the early part of the Cold War, Japan emerged as a model ally, and Japanese Americans were seen as a model minority. From Confinement to Containment examines the work of four Japanese and Japanese/American artists and writers during this period: the novelist Hanama Tasaki, the actor Yamaguchi Yoshiko, the painter Henry Sugimoto, and the children’s author Yoshiko Uchida. The backgrounds of the four figures reveal a mixing of nationalities, a borrowing of cultures, and a combination of domestic and overseas interests.
Edward Tang shows how the film, art, and literature made by these artists revealed to the American public the linked processes of U.S. actions at home and abroad. Their work played into—but also challenged—the postwar rehabilitated images of Japan and Japanese Americans as it focused on the history of transpacific relations such as Japanese immigration to the United States, the Asia-Pacific War, U.S. and Japanese imperialism, and the wartime confinement of Japanese Americans. From Confinement to Containment shows the relationships between larger global forces as well as how the artists and writers responded to them in both critical and compromised ways .
“Tang’s compelling and smoothly written book offers one of the best syntheses of the larger international context in which Japanese Americans found themselves during and after World War II. Tang illuminates how artists and writers tried to work out their transnational subjectivities at a time when national boundaries were particularly rigid. His deep archival research, historical narrative, close literary readings, and visual and filmic analysis are a pleasure to read.”
—Naoko Shibusawa, Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Brown University and author of America’s Geisha Ally: Reimagining the Japanese Enemy
“Working across genres and national boundaries, Edward Tang makes a bold claim for transpacific studies in the context of Japanese/America, uncovering new artists for an Asian American archive but also troubling the frameworks of nation-based multiculturalism and deracialized cosmopolitanism that commonly absorb them. His work not only is a welcome addition to the growing body of Cold War studies of Asian America but also forges important ties between Asian and Asian American studies that do not shy away from the complexities of both Japanese and U.S. nationalisms."
—Sylvia Shin Huey Chong, Associate Professor of American Studies and English at the University of Virginia and author of The Oriental Obscene: Violence and Racial Fantasies in the Vietnam Era
"Integrating biographical details, historical contextualization, and readings of literary works, paintings, and films, Tang highlights the interactions among the subject, larger sociohistorical forces, and artistic and cultural production and conventions.... Through his rich exploration of these four artists, Tang shows us both the devastation of these events and the many ways that those affected continue to create, connect, and imagine."
—American Literary History
" This ambitious book bridges transpacific Asian studies and Asian American studies, as well as multidisciplinary literary, film, art, and historical analyses, offering new insights into post-war U.S. and Japanese history."
—The Journal of American History
"From Confinement to Containment is a thoroughly researched and well-written work. One major strength of the book is its multidimensional perspective in analyzing the artworks.... Contextualizing the artworks within these broader social expectations and frameworks enabled Tang to provide insightful discoveries of how productions and distributions of artworks shaped public perceptions and vice versa...Tang’s deep archival work is also meritorious.... (It) is a great addition to the existing literature on Japanese American history, Cold War history, and ethnic studies. Its interdisciplinary and multimodal approach makes it enjoyable to read."
—Ethnic Studies Review
Table of Contents
1. Reorienting Empires: Hanama Tasaki’s War Guilt and U.S.-Japan Relations
2. Sleeping with the Frenemy: Yamaguchi Yoshiko as Japanese War Bride
3. Beyond Confinement: The Racialized Cosmopolitan Style of Henry Sugimoto
4. Teach Your Children Well: The Postwar Tales of Yoshiko Uchida
About the Author(s)
In the Series
Asian American History and Culture edited by Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee
Founded by Sucheng Chan in 1991, the Asian American History and Culture series has sponsored innovative scholarship that has redefined, expanded, and advanced the field of Asian American studies while strengthening its links to related areas of scholarly inquiry and engaged critique. Like the field from which it emerged, the series remains rooted in the social sciences and humanities, encompassing multiple regions, formations, communities, and identities. Extending the vision of founding editor Sucheng Chan and emeriti editor Michael Omi, David Palumbo-Liu, K. Scott Wong and Linda Trinh Võ, series editors Cathy Schlund-Vials, Rick Bonus, and Shelley Sang-Hee Lee continue to develop a foundational collection that embodies a range of theoretical and methodological approaches to Asian American studies.