Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Anthropology

First Advisor

Bonnie Clark, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Dean J. Saitta

Third Advisor

Annabeth Headrick

Fourth Advisor

Esteban Gomez


Amache, Japanese American internment, Object agency, Object biography


This project investigates the meaning of Japanese American families' personal possessions associated with internment through the concepts of object biography and object agency. It uses material culture analysis to help anthropologists understand the Japanese American internment experience, specifically through a case study at Amache, the Japanese American internment camp in southeastern Colorado. Five semi-structured phone interviews, and one structured email interview, are the primary data used to explore the importance of material culture associated with the site and to help preserve the cultural heritage of Amache. Object agency and object biography are key components of the new material culture theory. In this project, object biography concerns how examining different meanings, values, uses, and contexts over time can help anthropologists better understand the Japanese American internment experience. Object agency involves analyzing the relationship between former internees' families and their personal possessions. One of the crucial ways to investigate this concept is understanding why museum donors decided to donate their family items to a museum. It also involves why objects were donated specifically to the Amache museum, instead of to other museums that have Japanese American collections. This thesis suggests there are multiple patterns and themes in the relationships between museum donors and their objects that relate to the Japanese American internment experience.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Rebecca Michele Cruz


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

174 p.


Museum Studies, Cultural Anthropology