Politics of Memory
When Rago Arts and Auction House attempted to sell a collection of internment arts and artifacts earlier this year, the auction incited outrage and protest within the Japanese American community. Following the intervention of actor George Takei, the sale was cancelled and the entire collection eventually transferred to the Japanese American National Museum. Yet, the sheer scale of the auction’s controversy illustrates that internment still remains a personally and politically charged experience for Japanese Americans.
Artwork and writing—the core of Yale’s internment collections and this exhibit—remain critical, yet overlooked conduits for this history. Who has the right to narrate this story? What is the place of internee experiences in telling this history and how do these histories continue to be told as the number of internee survivors dwindles? How might archival collections enrich alternative interpretations of the experiential and lived nature of internment?