Daughters of the American concentration camps : a developmental theory of identity formation amongst Japanese American women / by Beverly Ino Matsuishi.
This is a first time study of the psychological effects of the American forced migration and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. It examines the Nisei women's response to the identity challenge presented by the degradation and indoctrination of the concentration camps. Utilizing a culturally focused version of grounded theory which gives prominence to the women's Japanese socio-cultural heritage, this study examines over 2800 pages of archival interviews of 27 women between the ages of 19 and 37. The interviews were recorded between 1943-1945 by the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study. The current study produces an identity theory which traced the developmental paths of valued, devalued and sacrificial daughters through identity challenges posed by (a) their families, (b) the Japanese American community and finally, (c) the concentration camps. Their developmental paths were influenced by the type of traditional family, the separation of the mother/daughter dyad, the prejudicial climate distorting the Japanese American community, the scapegoating within the camps and the formation of female fictive kinships. Contrary to the belief in the superiority of Americanization, it was the "Meiji Era" Japanese identity transmitted by some traditional families and strengthened by the identity challenges that produced insightful Japanese American women with integrated, capable identities. The survival of the Japanese part of the identity has been underestimated because it was not publicly expressed due to the oppressive Post War social climate and the condition for release from the camps which demanded adoption of Americanized identities. The women publicly complied with Americanization but privately they defiantly brought forward their ancient traditional Japanese values and customs. They modernized and integrated them with the American and gained sustenance and strength from their covert expression within the confines of the structural constraints imposed by the greater American society.
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