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Creating a Community in Confinement: The Development of Neighborhoods in Amache, a WWII Japanese American Internment Camp

Author(s): April Kamp-Whittaker ; Bonnie J. Clark

Year: 2015

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In 1942 Japanese Americans from the west coast of the United States were forcibly relocated to incarceration camps scattered across the interior of the country. Constructed by the Army Corp of Engineers and designed to house around 10,000 individuals, these centers followed a rigid, gridded layout that allowed for the rapid construction of what were ostensibly cities. Residential sections were laid out in blocks, each containing twelve "apartment" buildings to which internees were assigned on arrival. Four seasons of intensive pedestrian survey at Amache in Colorado, accompanied by extensive oral histories, has determined that these residential blocks became neighborhoods with individual character and personalities. Particularly compelling are the internee-created landscaping features, which are sometimes coordinated at the level of the block. This paper will discuss the strategies of these frequently arbitrary arrangements of families for creating more cohesive units in a place they did not choose to live. Especially in light of the nature of institutional confinement, these results contribute to the disciplinary conversation about the social role of neighborhoods in the formation of community identity.

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Creating a Community in Confinement: The Development of Neighborhoods in Amache, a WWII Japanese American Internment Camp. April Kamp-Whittaker, Bonnie J. Clark. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 394826)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America