Internment Camps and Forced Migration: A Space Where Past, Present, and Future Intersect




Boan, Jason

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In the 1940's, tens of thousands of people of Japanese and German heritage throughout the western hemisphere were forcibly uprooted from their homes resulting in a traumatic separation from their families, communities, possessions, and identities. While some people were confined to camps and released at different points in time, others were given to foreign countries and traded to enemy nations. The public's understanding of this history is limited in scope and distorted by the misuse of the terms and multiple aspects of the different programs that fall under what is commonly known as the U.S. internment of Japanese. The Japanese confined are only one aspect of many systems in over a dozen countries working simultaneously to ensure hemispheric security. The people forcibly uprooted from their lives are generally presented as immigrants and their confinement as the result of years of racist U.S. anti-immigrant policies. When, in fact, over 2/3 of those targeted were citizens of North, Central, and South American countries. The public's ability to interact with this history is limited due to the cost and time associated with independent research at museums and archives, as well as the physical degradation, ownership, and physical location of many sites related to the forced uprooting. The purpose of this paper is threefold: it seeks to rectify the issues associated with the lopsided history and misused terminology of forced uprooting while providing context to the lived experience of those forcibly uprooted; to present forced uprooting from the framework of forced migration studies by arguing for the broadening of the term forced migration to differentiate between self-engaged and facilitated forced migration; and to present digital methods of presenting history to create a 'sense of history' that allows for the intertwining of public and collective memories.


The author has granted permission for their work to be available to the general public.


Digital Humanities, Forced Migration, Forced Uprooting, Hemispheric Solidarity, Internment