Date of Award

6-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Social Sciences

Department

History

First Reader/Committee Chair

Lyon, Cherstin

Abstract

This study fills a critical gap in research on the immediate postwar history of Japanese American community culture in Los Angeles and South Bay. The purpose of this thesis is to contribute research and literature of the immediate postwar period between the late 1940s resettlement period and the 1960s. During the early to mid-1940s, Americans witnessed World War II and the unlawful incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans. In the 1960s, the Sansei (third generation) started to reshape the character and cultural expressions of Japanese American communities, including their development of the Yellow Power Movement in the context of the Black and Brown Power Movements in California. The period between these bookends, however, requires further research and academic study, and it is to the literature of the immediate postwar period that this thesis contributes.

Furthermore, this thesis contributes to the nearly absent literature of Japanese American community redevelopment in the transboundary Los Angeles/South Bay area. It is in this area that we find the largest and fastest growing postwar Japanese American population in the country. This community built lasting networks and relationships through the revival of cultural celebrations like Obon and Nisei Week, sport and recreation – namely baseball and bowling, and ethnic resources in the form of food and ethnic markets. These relationships laid the foundations for later social activism and the redefining of the Japanese American community. Far from a period of silence or inactivity, Japanese Americans actively shaped and reshaped their communities in ways that refused to allow the wartime incarceration experience, so fresh in their minds, to define them.