Arthur A. Hansen

Art Hansen is Professor Emeritus of History and Asian American Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he retired in 2008 as the director of the Center for Oral and Public History.  Between 2001 and 2005, he served as Senior Historian at the Japanese American National Museum.

Updated October 2009

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A ‘consequential’ collection of JA history

This is the second of two outstanding books by eminent historian and journalist Greg Robinson consisting primarily of his “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great” columns in the San Francisco-based Nichi Bei Weekly. In reviewing for the NBW the first book, The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches, published by the University Press of Colorado in 2016, I explained that its 10 chapters encompassed the “‘unknown’ activities and/or achievements of selected noteworthy individuals.” As for the University of Washington Press volume here under review, which also includes postings on Discover Nikkei, the Los Angeles-based Japanese American …

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Minding and mining the gaps of one family’s trauma

I immensely enjoyed and was greatly enlightened by Sansei psychotherapist Judy Kawamoto’s singular book. I would classify its genre as a meditative memoir. As she succinctly notes, “psychotherapy is dubbed ‘the talking cure’” (pp. 80). It typically involves a therapist asking patients probing in-depth questions about every aspect of their lives so as to assist them with addressing and redressing their problems. In the case of Forced Out, Kawamoto enacts the twin role of therapist and patient. All of her questions, therefore, are rhetorical ones posed to herself for contemplation, understanding, and healing.

Kawamoto’s central problem is intergenerational trauma …

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Book on Heart Mountain football team achieves brilliance

For a number of years I have been working on a sports and society book treating the social and cultural transformation of Southern California in the early Cold War period through the lens of prep football as epitomized by a Dec. 14, 1956, California Interscholastic Federation championship game between Downey High School and Anaheim High School played before a record crowd of between 40 and 60,000 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

I sensed that I was stalled in completing it by a fatal flaw, but did not fully realize what precisely that flaw was until I ran across a …

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San Francisco J-Town’s redevelopment-era transformation

My first visit to San Francisco’s Japantown occurred in May 1974. It came about when I, along with two colleagues in the Japanese American Project of the Oral History Program at California State University, Fullerton, Betty Mitson and Ron Larson, journeyed to the City by the Bay to conduct tape-recorded interviews with the prominent Communist couple Karl Yoneda (1906-1999) and Elaine Black Yoneda (1906-1988). After interviewing them for two days, the Yonedas kindly invited us to be their dinner guests in Japantown at a restaurant located in the spectacular Japanese Cultural and Trade Center. Its opening nearly six years earlier …

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A ‘community study’ of Minidoka

During the May 1995 symposium that Mike Mackey organized in Powell, Wyoming on the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans at the nearby Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Mackey toured Bob Sims (1936-2015) and me around Powell. One topic we three non-Nikkei historians of the Japanese American wartime incarceration (all beholden to Roger Daniels) discussed on that occasion was our common burning desire to write a narrative history of a particular War Relocation Authority-administered concentration camp: Mackey of Heart Mountain, me of Manzanar in California, and Sims of Minidoka in Idaho.

Only Mackey’s dream came true when, in 2000, he published his …

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