Home » Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945

Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945

Colleen Lye, “A New Deal for Asians” Chapter 4 in America’s Asia:
Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945 (only pages 141-top
of 163 and 201-202
Mitsuye Yamada, “Desert Run”
Internment, the Myth of the
Frontier, and the Model
American Frontier: Taming the “wilderness”
What comes to mind in this environment?
❖ harmony with nature—animals grazing on pastures
❖ peaceful, healing, authenticity
❖ Jeffersonian democracy—white farmers as ideal
❖ Frontier myth—American settlers are destined to
“conquer” nature (also meaning indigenous Native
Americans). The experience breeds independence,
creativity, and individuality. Access to “sublime”
nature is therefore a privilege of settler colonialism
Manifest Destiny
❖ “American Progress” by John Ghast, 1872
American Nature Writing: John Muir, Henry
David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson
❖ Romanticizes the relationship
between man and nature
❖ “looking upon the countryside as
a peaceful, nature-bound, and
harmonious counterweight to the
corruptions of urban life” (Ursula
Heise, Sense of Place, Sense of
Planet: The Environmental
Imagination of the Global, 138)
❖ wilderness is a sublime landscape
for Muir where nature nurtures
and empowers man
❖ The environment is a governing
tool in the US, what Michel
Foucault called “biopolitics”
❖ Liberal power works passively
through the ability to “make
live and let die”
❖ Muir’s access to the
wilderness is life
senses, freedom of
–William Cronon, “The Trouble with Wilderness”
“Wilderness hides its unnaturalness
behind a mask that is all the more
beguiling because it seems so natural.”
Switch out “Wilderness” for the word
“Power” in the quote below to
understand Biopolitics:
Why have we separated issues of social
justice like racism and colonization from
environmental writing?
What happens when we try to link them back
together? We will explore this question more in our
analysis of the Internment and the poem by Mitsuye
Cheap farm labor in the West was
predominantly Asian and Mexican. They
become invisible during the Great
Migration of poor white farmers from the
Dust Bowl creates national images of the
crisis of democracy brought on by the
Great Depression. Image of the
“whiteness of the fallen yeoman” farmer
that the nation must rehabilitate (Lye, 142)
Drought in the South and Midwest
Financial and Environmental Crisis of the
Great Depression
Dust Bowl Farmers migrate to the
West Coast
New Deal policies (1933-1936)
of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
aimed at alleviating poverty and the
plight of poor white migrant tenant
farmers through federal programs like
the Farm Security Administration
in addition to Social Security, the
Civilian Conservation Corp, Federal
Housing Administration, and public
works projects, etc.
Dustbowl Farmer Oklahoma, 1936
Digging out fence post being
buried in sand
“Ex-tenant farmer on relief grant in the Imperial Valley,
California.” Photo by Dorothea Lange
1934 Tydings-McDuffie Act revokes
“US national status” for Filipinx
1937 forced repatriation of Mexican
farm workers
“In the same period 683,000 [white]
migrants from the south-central
states of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri,
and Arkansas arrived in California to
take their place” (Lye)
February 1942 Forced removal of
people of Japanese Ancestry
Significance: Japanese and Filipinx
farmworkers were effectively
removed from farming in order to
make space for white farmers
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of
Wrath (1939)—sympathetic to the
plight of poor white farm workers
Lye writes, “labor protest and the
entry of drought refugees dually
informed the metamorphosis of
the willing [Asian] coolie into the
suffering [white] migrant” (Lye,
The heroic white figure,
“Migrant Mother”
by Dorothea Lange,
Think/write for 5 minutes about the differences that you see between this photo and
the previous photo by Lange
❖ The Mochida family awaits evacuation by bus in 1942.
Prior to the war, Mr. Mochida had operated a nursery
and five greenhouses in Hayward, CA. Dorothea Lange /
Nara. This image contrasts with “Migrant Mother” in
that Japanese families are not portrayed as suffering or
in need of aid. They are well-clothed and look “middle
class”—many Japanese American evacuees were not
well off like the Mochidas. Even as the Japanese were
being incarcerated due to the Yellow Perilist fear of
treason, the Model Minority was also being activated by
liberals who sympathized with their plight.
The Japanese were accused of “soil mining” or
overworking the soil (Lye, 157), yet admired for
reclaiming “lands that were either completely
out of use or employed for far less profitable
enterprises” (San Francisco Chronicle)
Confusion about internment among liberals like
Carey McWilliams who called it the “agricultural
adjustment,” or in other words, part of the New
Deal for Japanese people (162).
Many New Deal liberals viewed the
concentration camps as “public works” aimed
at “protecting” the Japanese from racism.
Japanese American farmer
holds a box of tomato
Asians not seen as legitimate “farmers” on
the “frontier” West. Colleen Lye argues
that the Internment Camps must be
viewed as part of this New Deal
“progressive” federal management of
human populations—“liberalism’s dirty
heritage” (141)
Illustrates confusion about Western
economic growth (Lye, 158)—what
was taking over in California was not
idealized small farmers but large
corporate farms and industrialized
agriculture that created a demand
for cheap labor in what Carey
McWilliams called “factories in the
field” and compared with the monocrop cotton industry in the South
Ansel Adams published a photo journal
of the Manzanar Relocation Center
He tended to photograph the Japanese
Americans as idealized American
pioneers within a romanticized
American wilderness setting
The American wilderness is a
construction of American settler
colonialism in that it romanticized the
“settlement” of indigenous lands as
destined by got, Manifest Destiny
This act of “settling the wilderness” is
central to our idealization of the
wilderness as part of a uniquely
American identity, the pioneer: the
creative, rugged individual,
democratic, meritocratic
Ansel Adams’s
of concentration
camps from Born
Free and Equal
Japanese Americans photographed as
“model” settlers or “pioneers in the
desert.” Images of Japanese Americans
in nature represent liberal attempts, like
this one by Ansel Adams, to recover the
image of Japanese Americans in the
camps as innocent and even healthful,
failing to see their presence in nature as
a form of imprisonment (Lye, 201)
Ansel Adams. Manzanar Relocation Center,
Farm, farm workers, Mt. Williamson in
Ansel Adams. Manzanar Relocation Center, California.
Nurse Aiko Hamaguchi.
Ansel Adams tends to romanticize Japanese
Americans as productive and hardworking
pioneering farmers, skilled workers, and
professionals, a “model minority,” in a
democratic (“free press”) natural setting
Mitsuye Yamada’s “Desert Run” Poem
❖ Look at the literary techniques that Asian
American feminist poet Mitsuye Yamada uses
to describe the natural environment:
❖ Nature for many white male nature writers
of the 19th and early 20th century is often
personified as a woman, and described as
“sublime” and embodying American
values of democracy, individuality,
creativity, and exceptional destiny.
❖ What is different about Yamada’s
personification, through this simile:
❖ “like the bull snakes brought/ into this
desert by the soldiers”
❖ If the desert is not a place of “sublime”
beauty, what does it represent ?
Yamada is “returning” to the
desert. She is not there on
vacation or for the “rejuvenation”
of nature, but to return to a site of
violence and trauma, where she
was treated like a “criminal” and
imprisoned in a concentration
camp during World War II
Yamada was in the Minidoka
camp in Hunt, Idaho
“I return to the desert/where criminals/were
abandoned to wander/away to their deaths”
Children removing sagebrush to clear
land for agriculture in Minidoka
concentration camp. Accessed at
Nature vs. Civilization
❖ “where the sculptor’s wreck/was reclaimed/by the gentle
drifting sands”
❖ citing Percy Shelley’s romantic poem Ozymandias where
nature is seen to triumph over corrupt civilizations
❖ Yet rather than images of liberation of freedom in nature
(Muir), Yamada connects the desert as the place where
civilization’s unwanted are left to die—“criminals…
abandoned to wander away to their deaths”
Not Natural: Power and Oppression in Nature
❖ “I flick my tongue in your face/an image
trapped in your mirror./ You will use me or/
you will honor me in a shrine/to keep me
❖ Yamada, as an animal in the desert is not
“natural” there. Instead she is imprisoned
there by the “you” in the poem
❖ The desert is an environment saturated with
power—it is created by dominant society to
trap and contain people of Japanese ancestry
that they thought were a “threat”
❖ In other words, unlike the romantic poem,
“Ozymandias” where power dies in the
desert, Yamada’s poem illustrates, as
environmental historian William Cronon
argues, that power is what makes “nature,”
what makes the desert a desert.
❖Necropolitics—The Politics of Death in
❖ “I wrote my will here/my fingers moved slowly in the/hot sand the texture of
whole wheat flower/three words; I died here/ the winds filed them away”
❖ “I am back to claim my body/my carcass lies/between the spiny branches of two
creosote bushes/it looks strangely like a small calf/left to graze and die”
❖ “I take a dry stick/give myself/a ritual burial”
❖ Significance: Yamada describes the metaphoric death of the camps, the social
death, as if it were a real death, “I wrote my will here…three words; I died here”
❖ How is “writing” an important part of this process? Does writing help Yamada
materialize the “dead body” that is invisible? How does writing create closure?
❖ Unlike dominant nature writing, Yamada is not able to “transcend” death to
recuperate in nature—she is trying to describe abjection, social death (Balce)
and a process and ritual of mourning here.
Concentration Camps
❖ In liberal democracies we think of
concentration camps as a “state of
exception”: a suspension of the
normal rule of law in times of crisis
like war (See Giorgio Agamben, The
States of Exception)
❖ Japanese American internment camps
were also viewed as a “wartime
❖ Yet Agamben argues that concentration
camps are not exceptional but actually
everywhere, a “hidden matrix of the
political space in which we live,”
Border detention center
Mine Okubo, Citizen 13660
❖ Artist and muralist Mine
Okubo, who once studied
under Diego Rivera, sketched
her experiences during World
War II and the evacuation of
Japanese Americans to
“relocation centers” in her
graphic memoir Citizen 13660
Oppositional Gaze
❖ Rather than representing
imprisonment as “pioneer”
wilderness or productive citizens in
an exceptional moment in wartime
hysteria, Okubo represents the
Japanese internee as unproductive,
bored, and surrounded by
imprisoning systems
❖ repetition of buildings
❖ bureaucratic lining up for food
❖ boredom- as to “bore a hole
through” the rights of citizenship A resident of the camps looks lost between rows of
identical barracks
Miné Okubo, “Waiting in lines, Tanforan Assembly Center, San Bruno, California,” 1942. Drawing. Courtesy of
Japanese American National Museum, gift of Miné Okubo Estate, 2007.62.
Okubo embraces an affect of boredom to resist images of Japanese Americans as “productive”
citizens, idealized hard-working pioneers. Her images are not captioned because they are part
of the narrative of her graphic memoir
Okubo inserts herself into the scene of people
standing around. She is often drawn looking off
into the distance, at nothing, or something we
can’t see
Okubo sometimes draws herself looking directly at the viewer in various states of boredomstanding around outside their barracks, standing in lines, or sitting at a table
Questions to Guide You
❖ Think about the different techniques that Lange or Adams and Okubo use to
depict nature and their place in it (either idealizing citizens and workers as
“pioneers” or presenting an oppositional gaze). Compare and contrast two
different visual images and try to identify a dominant gaze and an oppositional
❖ How do Lange and Adams depict Japanese Americans as “model minorities”?
Why do you think they are not represented as poor struggling farm workers,
which many were? Think about how Colleen Lye talks about the liberal
“whitening” of farm labor during the Great Depression.
❖ How did Progressive environmentalists and liberals try to frame the Internment
of people of Japanese ancestry as a “positive” thing that aligns the Japanese with
American nature ideals? How does Yamada’s poetry challenge dominant
American desires to shape the history of internment as a form of assistance and
assimilation into America?

Get Professional Assignment Help Cheaply

Buy Custom Essay

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945
Just from $9/Page
Order Essay

Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?

Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.

Why Choose Our Academic Writing Service?

  • Plagiarism free papers
  • Timely delivery
  • Any deadline
  • Skilled, Experienced Native English Writers
  • Subject-relevant academic writer
  • Adherence to paper instructions
  • Ability to tackle bulk assignments
  • Reasonable prices
  • 24/7 Customer Support
  • Get superb grades consistently

Online Academic Help With Different Subjects


Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.


Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.

Computer science

Computer science is a tough subject. Fortunately, our computer science experts are up to the match. No need to stress and have sleepless nights. Our academic writers will tackle all your computer science assignments and deliver them on time. Let us handle all your python, java, ruby, JavaScript, php , C+ assignments!


While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.


Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.


In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.


Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.


We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!


We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.


Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.

What discipline/subjects do you deal in?

We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.

Are your writers competent enough to handle my paper?

Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.

What if I don’t like the paper?

There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.

Reasons being:

  • When assigning your order, we match the paper’s discipline with the writer’s field/specialization. Since all our writers are graduates, we match the paper’s subject with the field the writer studied. For instance, if it’s a nursing paper, only a nursing graduate and writer will handle it. Furthermore, all our writers have academic writing experience and top-notch research skills.
  • We have a quality assurance that reviews the paper before it gets to you. As such, we ensure that you get a paper that meets the required standard and will most definitely make the grade.

In the event that you don’t like your paper:

  • The writer will revise the paper up to your pleasing. You have unlimited revisions. You simply need to highlight what specifically you don’t like about the paper, and the writer will make the amendments. The paper will be revised until you are satisfied. Revisions are free of charge
  • We will have a different writer write the paper from scratch.
  • Last resort, if the above does not work, we will refund your money.

Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

smile and order essay GET A PERFECT SCORE!!! smile and order essay Buy Custom Essay

Place your order
(550 words)

Approximate price: $22

Calculate the price of your order

550 words
We'll send you the first draft for approval by September 11, 2018 at 10:52 AM
Total price:
The price is based on these factors:
Academic level
Number of pages
Basic features
  • Free title page and bibliography
  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
  • 24/7 support
On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
  • Expert Proofreading
Paper format
  • 275 words per page
  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

Read more

Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

Read more

Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

Read more

Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

Read more

Fair-cooperation guarantee

By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

Read more
error: Content is protected !!
Open chat
Need assignment help? You can contact our live agent via WhatsApp using +1 718 717 2861

Feel free to ask questions, clarifications, or discounts available when placing an order.
  +1 718 717 2861           + 44 161 818 7126           [email protected]
  +1 718 717 2861         [email protected]