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Placing Memory

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Placing Memory
A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment. Part of the Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West. Photographs by Todd Stewart. Essays by Natasha Egan and Karen J. Leong. Afterword by John Tateishi. (University of Oklahoma Press, Norman: 2008. Pg. 132. Photos, Maps.) ISBN: 978-0-8061-3951-7.

Reviewed by Herbert White - January 2, 2009

This stunning collection of photographs, document the ten internment camps located in the American West that were used to imprison Japanese Americans during World War II. They represent a unique history of this dark moment in American history. This book contains a mix of modern-day color photographs taken by Todd Stewart, which illustrate the physical remains of the ten internment camps, and black and white images taken in the 1940's, during the internment, under the auspices of the War Relocation Authority (WRA). The WRA photographs are accompanied by their original captions.

These photographs are enhanced by the inclusion of an introduction by Todd Stewart, and provocative essays by Natasha Egan and Karen J. Leong. The book concludes with an afterword by John Tateishi, a former internee at the Manzanar Relocation Center. These commentaries combine to provide an overview of the events leading up to the internment of more than 120,000 Japanese-American men, women, and children as 'domestic enemy aliens' and what life was like for them as internees. These essays also examine the impact of the internments on the Japanese-American community, how the interment process was perceived by average Americans', and the role that photography plays in not only documenting an event, but also its aftermath.

Placing Memory: A Photographic Exploration of Japanese American Internment is a memorable and touching exploration of the internment of Japanese Americans. It not only serves to memorialize this tragic moment in American history, but also documents the still visible scars left by the internment camps. This book can be used as a coffee-table book for those looking for a stunning collection of photographs that document a perplexing moment in history. This book will benefit anyone with an interest in photography, Japanese-American history, or the internment of enemy aliens during World War II.


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