Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa (Sociology) was awarded a $124,906 grant from California State Library’s California Civil Liberties Public Education program. The competitive grant program supports the creation and dissemination of educational and public awareness resources concerning the history and the lessons of civil rights violations or civil liberties injustices carried out against communities or populations.

Dr. Takaragawa’s project, “Images and Imaginings of the Japanese American Internment: Comics and Illustrations of Camp,” examines the little-known visual representations of daily life within internment camps where Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants were incarcerated during World War II. Because individuals in these camps were not permitted to record their daily lives via film or photography, much of their day-to-day life was captured via drawing, painting, and illustrations. Although some images were published and widely circulated, such as Mine Okubo’s Citizen 13660, there is no comprehensive catalog of the comics and illustrations made both inside and outside of the camps. This project will create an accessible archive of the internment experience for the public, educational and scholarly uses, and posterity.

“This project is personally important to me because I learned about this history from external sources, and not from my family that was incarcerated at Heart Mountain internment camp during WWII.  Even now at Chapman, I have taught this to students of Japanese descent who go home and find out that their families were also incarcerated during WWII.” – Dr. Stephanie Takaragawa

The project team includes Dr. Jan Osborn (English), Dr. Rei Magosaki (English), and Jessica Bocinski (Registrar for the Escalette Permanent Collection of Art). Osborn will provide insight into visual rhetoric, lending her expertise to contextualizing the role of comics in society, while providing connections to local area high schools and literacy programs. Magosaki is a specialist in the field of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American literature and culture and is currently undertaking a project that involves all 10 Japanese American internment camps. Bocinski will develop the online Scalar exhibition, and provide curatorial guidance for the physical exhibition.

The project is conceptualized in three phases. Phase One of this exhibition began in January 2021 with an award from Chapman’s Innovation in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion internal seed funding grant program. With this internal funding, Dr. Takaragawa hired a graduate student, Winston Andrus, who helped identify comic strips, illustrations, graphic novels, and comic book art. The culmination of phase one will be the creation of an open access, easily accessible online exhibition for educational purposes, aimed at demographics from middle-school to college students. A draft outline of the online exhibition in progress can be found at https://scalar.chapman.edu/scalar/internment-exhibit-test-book/index.

Phase Two will focus on developing educational content and resources for middle, high, and community college teachers. Online educators’ guides will include lesson plans and curriculum modules designed to ensure that the internment of citizens and permanent residents of Japanese ancestry is studied and understood in secondary and community college education, integrating the online exhibition into classroom learning outcomes, YouTube videos, and podcasts on Japanese American history. The interactive nature of the online exhibition will provide opportunities for students to engage with the materials, while the curriculum modules will connect that engagement with individual classroom learning outcomes.

A soft launch of educational materials will begin in Fall 2022, the content remaining dynamic as new materials are added. Focus groups will be convened among teachers who pilot this content, their classroom expertise facilitating a more robust and responsive website to meet the needs of middle and high school education. The dynamic nature of the online site is intended to appeal to repeat viewers who can access new content as it becomes available, as new materials are digitized. The project will also dovetail with Wilkinson College’s Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on Ethnic Studies fall programming, including two events focused on George Takei’s graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, including a book club on  October 17, 2022, at 6 p.m. at Orange Public Library, and a public lecture by George Takei on November 2, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. at Musco Center for the Arts. In addition, podcasts will be created with Asian American scholars in preparation for the physical exhibition launch at Chapman.

“The pedagogical materials component of this project will make the comics and illustrations of camp accessible to middle and high school students, using a format with which they are comfortable to learn about Japanese American incarceration. As young people access these materials, they can explore concepts of citizenship; they can inquire into the rhetorical strategies that allowed the U.S. government to proscribe a racially-designated non-citizen. Such inquiry is essential as we confront our history.” – Dr. Jan Osborn

Phase three includes a physical exhibition at Chapman University. The long-term goal is to bring this exhibition to other sites, such as Manzanar National Historic Site, Japanese American National Museum, and Smithsonian National Museum of American History.