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Greg Robinson

@Greg

Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada. He is the author of the books By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001), A Tragedy of Democracy; Japanese Confinement in North America (Columbia University Press, 2009), After Camp: Portraits in Postwar Japanese Life and Politics (University of California Press, 2012), Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese American Journalism in the World War II Era (University of Illinois Press, 2012), and The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches (University Press of Colorado, 2016), as well as coeditor of the anthology Miné Okubo: Following Her Own Road (University of Washington Press, 2008). Robinson is also coeditor of the volume John Okada - The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press, 2018).

His historical column “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” is a well-known feature of the Nichi Bei Weekly newspaper. Robinson’s latest book is an anthology of his Nichi Bei columns and stories published on Discover Nikkei, The Unsung Great: Portraits of Extraordinary Japanese Americans (University of Washington Press, 2020). It was recognized with an Association for Asian American Studies Book Award for Outstanding Achievement in History Honorable Mention in 2022. He can be reached at robinson.greg@uqam.ca.


Updated March 2022


Stories from This Author

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Ken Nakazawa Rediscovered
Part II—Prewar Cultural Arbiter

May 19, 2024 • Greg Robinson

Read Part I >> Although Ken Nakazawa achieved a modicum of public fame in the 1920s from his plays and his writings, he achieved his greatest renown as a public figure in the following decade. A watershed moment for Nakazawa was his selection as an essayist by the Boston-based Atlantic Monthly magazine. His first contribution, which appeared in the Atlantic’s February 1929 issue, was “The Spirit of Japanese Poetry.” Nakazawa provided an atmospheric, almost Lafcadio Hearnesque reading of Japanese poetry—one …

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Ken Nakazawa Rediscovered
Part I—The Early Years

May 12, 2024 • Greg Robinson

Prominent among the few Issei to be accepted in mainstream American culture in the years before World War II was Ken Nakazawa. Nakazawa was a well-respected professor at University of Southern California—one of the first ethnic Japanese on the faculty of an important American university—as well as a lecturer, essayist, playwright and interpreter of Japanese culture. He also served as diplomat and community leader at the Japanese consulate in Los Angeles. However, Nakazawa's outspoken support of Japan’s invasions and occupation of China …

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Japan and the U.S. Cotton Trade in the 1930s

April 29, 2024 • Greg Robinson

The history of New Orleans, like the rest of the American South, is fundamentally intertwined with the cotton trade. Even in the 20th century, long after the antebellum era of “King Cotton,” New Orleans reigned as the nation’s largest cotton market. During this time, trade shifted to a new center: Japan. Through the first half of the 20th century raw cotton represented the bulk of US exports to Japan, helping fuel Japan's industrial revolution. The commerce expanded most heavily after …

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The Amazing Tashiro Family
Part 6: Sabro and Arthur Tashiro - Multitalented Brothers

April 12, 2024 • Greg Robinson

In this column, I will round out my history of the amazing family of Aijiro and Nao Tashiro by discussing the lives of their younger sons Sabro (AKA Saburo or Sab) and Arthur. Sabro Tashiro was born in New Haven, Connecticut in February 1910, and moved with his family to Seattle after the end of World War I. During the summer of 1925 and 1926, he worked at an American salmon cannery in Tenakee, Alaska, alongside Swedish, German, Greek, and …

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The Amazing Tashiro Family
Part 5: Nao Tashiro—Issei Woman Teacher and Witness

April 5, 2024 • Greg Robinson

I have embarked on a series of columns on the prolific and talented Tashiro family. I have already posted columns on Aijiro “Frank” Tashiro and three of his children, Kenji (AKA Ken), Aiko, and Aiji. Here I propose to add a study of Nao Tashiro, the wife of Aijiro and mother of their children. Nao Tashiro was born Onaozan “Nao” Hasegawa in Echigo Province (as it was then called) in northeastern Honshu, Japan. Her father was an educated Japanese of Samurai …

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My Cousin Judy: An Inspiration

March 31, 2024 • Greg Robinson

My dear cousin Judy Mackey (Baker) passed away on February 11, 2024, at the age of 99. During her long career as an economist, she served as a role model and inspiration for many people, especially for women breaking into professional fields. I want to speak here about how she helped shape my work as a historian and scholar of Japanese Americans. She was born Judith Rosenblum in New York in January 1925, the only child of Moses and Sophia …

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Gratitude for Art Hansen—“A Gifted Mentor and Inspiration”

March 18, 2024 • Greg Robinson , Nichi Bei News

Among specialists in Japanese American history, few have made such an enduring contribution as Arthur Hansen. While his work as a longtime scholar and activist is well known in the Nikkei community, I want to pay tribute to him in his role as a gifted mentor and inspiration, to me and so many others. (Some of this column is taken from my essay in a volume produced 15 years ago, on the occasion of Art’s retirement.) It is hard for me …

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The Amazing Tashiro Family
Part 4 (2): Aiji Tashiro—Architect

March 5, 2024 • Greg Robinson

Read Part 4 (1) >> In 1938, Aiji Tashiro was recruited as a faculty member at Appalachian State Teacher’s College (today Appalachian State University) in Boone, North Carolina. He was one of the first Nisei engaged as a regular faculty member by an American university. He was assigned to teach History of Western Civilization and creative writing. In addition to his teaching duties, he was engaged as Landscape Architect. He would eventually design several buildings on campus, including what is …

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The Amazing Tashiro Family
Part 4 (1): Aiji Tashiro—Writer and Athlete

March 4, 2024 • Greg Robinson

The most eminent of the five children of Aijiro and Nao Tashiro was certainly their son Aiji (pronounced “I. G.”). A writer, athlete, architect, and landscaper, he spent the better part of a half-century pursuing his work. Unusually for a Nisei, he spent almost his entire career living and working in the American South, far from the centers of Asian American population. Aiji Tashiro, known as Tash, was born on July 6, 1908 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and spent his …

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Kim Weiskopf: Comedy Writer

Feb. 2, 2024 • Greg Robinson

The late television writer/producer Norman Lear, who died in 2023 at the age of 101, has been celebrated for revolutionizing the TV sitcom during the 1970s by producing such landmark shows as All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, and One Day at a Time. Storylines for these shows included such serious real-life issues as racial bigotry, divorce, rape, abortion, poverty, and labor strikes. Lear has also been praised in many memorial accounts for his generosity in mentoring and shaping …

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