Power of Words
UCLA removes ‘internment’ from professorship’s title
May 17, 2012
By Nichi Bei Weekly Staff
LOS ANGELES — Professor David K. Yoo, director of UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center, announced that the endowed chair and professorship of the Asian American Studies Center has been renamed The George and Sakaye Aratani Professor of the Japanese American Incarceration, Redress and Community.
“After considerable consultation, Dr. Lane Hirabayashi, who is the current holder of the Aratani Endowed Chair, and I decided to update the former title (that used the word ‘internment’) to reflect current scholarship on the subject,” Yoo said.
According to Hirabayashi, the recent “‘Power of Words’ national campaign has renewed the insistence” of avoiding U.S. government euphemisms in place of “more accurate terminology to reflect the realities of what actually happened to Japanese Americans during World War II.” Specifically, Hirabayashi notes, “the word ‘internment’ is both a legal and technical term that refers to the government’s arrest and imprisonment of foreign nationals.”
Thus, “in this sense … the Justice Department’s arrest and detention of Issei right after Pearl Harbor was internment,” Hirabayashi said in the statement. “It is a misnomer, however, to apply the same term to the Americans of Japanese ancestry who were put into War Relocation Authority camps, because almost 70% of them were in fact U.S. citizens,” he added.
Hirabayashi initiated the request for the change at the end of last year in consultation with the Asian American Studies Center, which administers the academic endowment that George and Sakaye Aratani funded in 2005.
UCLA’s Academic Senate approved the name change at the end of April.