Date of Award
Masters of Music
Sarah L. Morelli
Japanese American, Japanese American concentration camps, Japanese American music, War Relocation Authority, World War II, WWII, Amache
WWII saw the forced removal of around 120,000 Japanese Americans to concentration camps across the United States. Despite being incarcerated in often unforgiving social, political, and physical environments, many incarcerees developed means of continuing Japanese cultural traditions and music. Since that time, former incarcerees have largely avoided detailed discussion of their experiences of imprisonment, and as such, there is little information to determine what kind of impact incarceration had on their individual and collective musical worlds.
This thesis explores transgenerational cultural trauma using the incarceree experiences of the Granada Relocation Center (a National Historic Landmark) in southern Colorado. The cultural memories of those imprisoned, passed down to later Japanese American generations, can not only provide clues as to how music was performed, taught, and perceived by the incarcerees, but also to what those same cultural experiences mean now to both former incarcerees and their descendants. Paramount in this research is the question: How did the experience of imprisonment impact the musical worlds of formerly incarcerated Japanese Americans and their descendants? Also important in this study is the relationship between music and conflict, particularly racial conflict. Examining redress efforts both after the war and well beyond to the present day allows for a social and historical context to be applied to current musical practices. Semi-structured interviews with former incarcerees and their descendants are utilized to inform conclusions about meaning and development of trauma over time within the Japanese American community.
Due to the experiences of Japanese Americans at Amache and other concentration camps, the community at large has reacted either by abandoning traditional Japanese music and embracing Western musical conventions, or by devoting effort to reviving and transforming traditional Japanese practices, especially through taiko drumming. Such musical choices reveal the magnitude of the impact of racial prejudice and transgenerational cultural trauma caused by that prejudice.
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Przybylski, Kyle, "The Sounds of Being "Un-American": Embodied Cultural Trauma Within Japanese American Musical Worlds" (2020). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1825.
Received from ProQuest
Asian American studies, Music, Music history