Cover for ISHIZUKA: Lost and Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration. Click for larger image

Lost and Found

Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration

Recovering--and recovering from--a dark chapter in American history

Combining heartfelt stories with first-rate scholarship, Lost and Found reveals the complexities of a people reclaiming their own history. For decades, victims of the United States’ mass incarceration of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II were kept from understanding their experience by governmental cover-ups, euphemisms, and societal silence. Indeed, the world as a whole knew little or nothing about this shamefully un-American event. The Japanese American National Museum mounted a critically acclaimed exhibition, “America’s Concentration Camp: Remembering the Japanese American Experience,” with the twin goals of educating the general public and engaging former inmates in coming to grips with and telling their own history.

Author/curator Karen L. Ishizuka, a third-generation Japanese American, deftly blends official history with community memory to frame the historical moment of recovery within its cultural legacy. Detailing the interactive strategy that invited visitors to become part of this groundbreaking exhibition, Ishizuka narrates the processes of revelation and reclamation that unfolded as former internees and visitors alike confronted the experience of the camps. She also ponders how the dual act of recovering--and recovering from--history necessitates private and public mediation between remembering and forgetting, speaking out and remaining silent.

By embedding personal words and images within a framework of public narrative, Lost and Found works toward reclaiming a painful past and provides new insights with richness and depth.

"It would be impossible to recapture the power of the show, but 'Lost and Found comes close, offering a look at an exhibition that became, over time, both sanctuary and community campfire."--Los Angeles magazine

"The reviewer has been teaching Asian American history for twenty years and did not think there was much more about the camps that would surprise him, but this book moved him in ways he had not expected. He recommends it to everyone interested in this dark episode of our national history."--Historian

“Karen Ishizuka’s Lost and Found reclaims an important part of American history that was nearly forgotten. By exploring the meaning of the World War II camps from the inmates’ own memories, this book achieves a level of intimacy that is not only profoundly moving, but is also essential to understanding the significance of the camps and the work of the Japanese American National Museum in preserving this history.”--Senator Daniel K. Inouye

Karen L. Ishizuka is an independent writer and documentary producer who has produced numerous award-winning films including Something Strong Within and Toyo Miyatake: Infinite Shades of Gray, an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival. She served the Japanese American National Museum for its first fifteen years as senior curator, senior producer, and director of its Media Arts Center.

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