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Connie Young Chiang
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)
Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese Internment

Nature Behind Barbed Wire: An Environmental History of the Japanese Internment, brings the natural world to the center of the internment story and demonstrates how the environment shaped and was shaped by the activities and agendas of federal authorities and over 110,000 Japanese internees during World War II. The War Relocation Authority, the federal agency that oversaw the ten relocation centers, tried to use nature as an instrument for social control by isolating the Japanese in remote places and procuring their labor for agricultural projects, but unpredictable environmental conditions often complicated its plans. For their part, many Japanese learned that their willingness (or lack thereof) to transform and adapt to the environment could help them endure and contest their incarceration. Ultimately, my project suggests how an environmental perspective can help historians understand the dynamics of racial oppression and resistance across the American landscape.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2009 – 8/31/2009