Noted Asian American historian shares insights

December 1, 2011  |   |  7 Comments
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Students in Christen Sasaki’s Asian American History class at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu will be addressed by the campus’s first Distinguished Visiting Scholar on December 6.

On the eve of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Odo will discuss his research as it relates to the Honouliuli internment and prisoner-of-war camp on Oʻahu during World War II. The founding director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and chief of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress will also talk about his latest book, set for release in 2012. Voices from the Canefields is about the folk songs sung by Japanese immigrants on sugar plantations.

Image of Honouliuli Internment Camp

The Honouliuli Camp in Central Oahu held more than 3,000 interned American citizens and prisoners of war in several compounds during World War II.

The subject of the Honouliuli camp hits close to home for UH West Oʻahu, which is building a new campus, set to open in 2012, on property adjoining the site. UH West Oʻahu faculty members and students are working to trace the footprint and recover the history of the largest and longest-operating World War II internment camp in Hawaiʻi.

The Honouliuli project was featured in-depth in Mālamalama magazine, including a photo slideshow of the site.

“As UH West Oʻahu’s first Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Dr. Odo brings a wealth of knowledge and experience along with insights into the inner workings of our nation’s most revered institutions and cultural history stewards, the Smithsonian Institute and the Library of Congress,” said UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Gene Awakuni.

Other Oʻahu speaking engagements

In addition to his presentation at UH West Oʻahu, Odo will address the Hawaiʻi Library Association Annual Conference at the Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel on Monday, December 5, discussing the Library of Congress and the future of reading.

On Wednesday, December 7, he will speak with high school students at Mid-Pacific Institute about the Japanese virtues of enryo (restraint, tact), okage sama de (thanks to you), giri (duty, sense of honor), on (debt of gratitude) and more.

Odo will also speak at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi and East-West Center, as well as address the Library and Information Science program at UH Mānoa’s Hamilton Library.

About Franklin Odo

Headshot of Franklin Odo

Franklin Odo

The first Kaimukī High School graduate to attend Princeton University, Odo was the founding director of the Smithsonian Institute’s Asian Pacific American Program in 1997. He was responsible for numerous exhibits highlighting the experiences of Chinese Americans, Native Hawaiians, Japanese Americans, Filipino Americans, Vietnamese Americans, Korean Americans and Indian Americans.

Odo retired in January 2010 and became chief of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress earlier this year. His 30-year teaching career included professorships at a number of prestigious universities including the University of Pennsylvania, Hunter College, Princeton University and Columbia University. Odo received his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Princeton University, master’s in East Asia regional studies at Harvard University and doctorate in Japanese history at Princeton University. He is the author of No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawaiʻi During World War II and editor of The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience.

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Comments (7)

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  1. The American citizens included German Americans and Italian Americans! And please don’t forget it!

    • Angie says:

      Yes, that is true, but the majority of those incacerated during WWII were of Japanese ancestry, inculding babies, children, and the elderly. 120,000 approximately to be exact (2/3rds were American Citizens), while those of German and Italian ancestry placed in interment camps were primarily not citizens.

      Please refer to Personal Justice Denied for the U.S. Government’s own account of such stastistics.

  2. Robert L. Seward says:

    As we approach the seventieth anniversary of Executive Order 9066, I hope that appropriate attention is paid to the similarities and as well as the differences that occurred between German Americans and Japanese Americans who were interned as well as the restrictions that the 1.1 immigrants from Axis countries had to live under throughout the United States during the War (NY Times April 1,1942). In the rush to talk about Manzanar, we forget to talk about Crystal City, the biracial family internment camp. We forget to talk about the Italian and German Americans who were ENCOURAGED to leave the West Coast under threat of internment. We forget to talk about the thousands of German, Japanese and Italian civilians who were brought to the United States against their will from an assortment of Latin American countries and interned. We Forget to talk about the Spanish women who were married to those German and Italian Latin Americans. Americans forget a lot. We forget too much.

  3. Robert….perhaps you are correct that “we forget!” But I think rather than “forget,” they prefer to “cover it up” that others besides Japanese Americans were interned.

    One day the truth will become known!

  4. eberhard fuhr says:

    At age 17 this German born 17 year old was interned in Crystal City Internment camp with an equal number of Japanese internees. It was a family camp and 250 babies or more were born there. Each Japanese baby received $20,000 and each Japanese parent the same in compensation, BUT NOT ONE GERMAN parent nor kid, got as much as a dime. I was released in September 1947 after 5 years of internment— longer than any Japanese.
    Solidarity is none existent between Japanese and German internees,except while inseparately incarcerated.

  5. Robert L. Seward says:

    One of my German American friends reminded me that I neglected to mention that in Hawaii, the entire population, regardless of ethnicity, lived under Martial Law for most of the war. Civilian courts were closed. You could be picked up for anything and if you tried to have a lawyer, you were punished more severely than the person who had no lawyer. The army ran two internment camps in Hawaii: Sand Island and Camp Honouliuli, which were far more uncomfortable than any camp on the mainland. Counterintuitively, over half the internees were white. Less than one percent of Hawaii’s Japanese population was interned yot almost all of its German American population was interned. Honouliuli was divided into three sections: one was for Japanese and Japanese American civilians, one was for German and German American civilians and one was for Japanese POWs.

  6. wade kitagawa says:

    I did not realize til reading this site that Americans of German ancestry were also incarcerated along with the Japanese Americans. I truly feel sorry that this information was not made more public we all could help each other receive compensation. My family on both sides fought in the war for the United States as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Unit. Fortunately, they were part of the surviving soldiers who made it back home. By the time the money was made available to all internees, all of my relatives had passed away so our ohana did not receive anything, just like you. Why don’t you petition the U.S. gov’t to pay the German internees some money instead of mentioning how only one group was singled out. It took a lot of effort on the part of Japanese citizens to get the United States to admit they owed something for punishing innocent American citizens. You Americans of German ancestry need to do your own work to receive compensation instead of just talking about it.

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