Transforming the Past: Tradition and Kinship among Japanese Americans

Transforming the Past: Tradition and Kinship among Japanese Americans

Transforming the Past: Tradition and Kinship among Japanese Americans

Transforming the Past: Tradition and Kinship among Japanese Americans

Excerpt

A book about Japanese Americans cannot help but immediately hint of the particular cultural and historical context in which it was written. This is perhaps nowhere more succinctly displayed than in the decisions its author has made about a couple of editorial issues. The first issue was whether or not to place a hyphen between "Japanese American." I have chosen not to because hyphenated ethnic categories continue to be associated in some minds with divided national identities and loyalties. The absence of the hyphen, on the other hand, leaves no ambiguity that the subject of my book is Americans of Japanese ancestry. In citing or quoting from published works in which "JapaneseAmerican" is hyphenated, however, I have been true to the original. The second issue was whether to state Japanese names in American order (surname last) or Japanese order (surname first). I have chosen to consistently use an American order because, although the first generation of Japanese Americans uses both orders (which one depends on the cultural context), the second generation uses an American order almost exclusively. To avoid any confusion, I use an American order even when giving the names of Japanese nationals who have never emigrated to the United States.

All the names of the persons interviewed, however, are pseudonyms, and in a few instances I have altered minor details about their individual or family characteristics that might have revealed their identities. My hope has always been that the people I interviewed would read this book; if they do they will have no difficulty recognizing themselves. In assigning pseudonyms, I have tried to convey the time period and cultural context in which people were born, while concealing their personal identities. Thus, persons with a Japanese surname and an Amer-

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