Koji Lau-Ozawa

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9912

Approve Date

October 25, 2019

Project Title

Lau-Ozawa, Koji (Stanford U.) "Connected through Confinement: An archaeology of the Gila River Incarceration Camp"

Over 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in the United States during WWII, regardless of citizenship. My project seeks to understand the critically understudied aspects of the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans at the Gila River Incarceration Camp in Arizona. The Gila River Camp has the distinction of being one of two camps forcibly built on a Native American Reservation. Despite the harsh environment, Japanese American incarcerees constructed extensive gardens throughout the camp, and maintained complex networks and communities. Through archaeological survey techniques, I seek to understand how these landscapes were built and where the materials for their construction were gathered. I further examine the material assemblages of incarcerees, interrogating the flow of commodities into the camp. My research builds upon previous studies of Japanese American sites of confinement, archaeology of institutions, studies of diaspora, and studies of culture contact. In weaving these strands of research together, this study highlights the underexplored tensions and strategies for perseverance of incarcerated populations, questioning the boundedness of institutions and interrogating the relationships between simultaneously oppressed communities. It contributes to anthropological studies of movement and connection, reconceiving inter-group interactions, and the formative processes of transnational communities.