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Nisei Designs: Cultural Producers Negotiating Identities during the Cold War.

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dc.contributor.author Nakatani, Sanae
dc.date.accessioned 2019-05-28T19:20:32Z
dc.date.available 2019-05-28T19:20:32Z
dc.date.issued 2017-05
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10125/62065
dc.subject Japanese Americans
dc.subject U.S.-Japan relations
dc.subject art
dc.subject architecture
dc.subject Cold War
dc.title Nisei Designs: Cultural Producers Negotiating Identities during the Cold War.
dc.type Thesis
dc.contributor.department American Studies
dcterms.abstract This dissertation examines the lives and works of three Nisei cultural producers— sculptor Isamu Noguchi, woodworker George Nakashima, and architect Minoru Yamasaki— during the Cold War. The three men deployed their malleable identities through their productive activities and challenged seemingly fixed boundaries of race, ethnicity, culture, and nation. The three Nisei men became both subjects and agents of the discursive force of Cold War Orientalism, which Christina Klein defines as America’s desire to consume Asia and integrate it into the Western sphere of influence. The three men’s successes became objects of consumption as they were weaved into a Japanese American version of the popular American dream narrative: while they suffered from prewar and wartime racism, their endurance, diligence, and entrepreneurship helped them become successful in competitive American society. The three men did not completely subscribe to the notion of color-blind meritocracy; instead, they criticized race issues and took a defiant attitude toward being passively represented as model minorities who were perpetually foreign and obedient to the status quo. Being Americans of Japanese ancestry worked to their advantage when Japanese culture regained popularity after World War II, but it also made them and their works vulnerable to critics’ and consumers’ Orientalizing lens. They were often expected to provide “authentic” Japanese designs. They carefully promoted the understanding that their works were a combination of their imaginative interpretations of ideas from Japan and their workmanship based on Euro-American education and training. They claimed that this fusion of concepts and methods resulted in a truly second-generation American creation rather than an obsolete eclecticism. Thus, they defied the discursive power that attempted to Other them and their works as exotic. The experiences in different parts of the world led Noguchi, Nakashima, and Yamasaki to reflect on the Eurocentric practices and views of the American architectural and art worlds. While the three Nisei men took advantage of their unique image as the bridge between the East and the West to stimulate potential clients’ interests in their works, they also rejected working merely as instruments of Cold War Orientalism. They occasionally challenged the assumed cultural hierarchy of Euro-American cultures over the others and argued the importance of learning from non-Western forms of expressions and values.
dcterms.description Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2017.
dcterms.language eng
dcterms.publisher University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
dcterms.rights All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
dcterms.type Text
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - American Studies


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