Title

Assimilation: A Debunked Notion

Lead Author Major

Film Studies

Lead Author Status

Junior

Format

Oral Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Zhou Xiaojing

Faculty Mentor Email

xzhou@pacifc.edu

Faculty Mentor Department

English

Abstract/Artist Statement

America as a nation has always been viewed as this “melting pot” of ethnicities and races. The idea behind the notion of a “melting pot” is that any ethnicity or race could become a part of American society. In order to do this, the given ethnic minority would have to first conform to a type of westernization that would allow them to become unmistakably American. This process of westernization is also known by the term assimilation. In spite of this notion of assimilation, it seems that this does not apply to all ethnicities. In accordance with historical events, we’ve seen that the only ethnic minorities that are able to become a part of American society are those that are viewed as “white.” Those that are viewed as non-white are barred from becoming a part of American society, even if they do appear to have been through this process of assimilation. In my paper I highlight a particular example of this: the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Specifically I look at the issue of exclusion of non-white minorities from the perspective given in Julie Otsuka’s novel, When the Emperor Was Divine. Otsuka opens by introducing a group of unnamed characters as a typical American family, highlighting especially the two children who do not identify with Japanese culture at all as they can not even speak Japanese. The specific use of a desert landscape, a typical symbol associated with cowboys and the concept of freedom in classical American literature, further hones in on the Japanese American family’s status as outsiders and un-American as Otsuka purposefully focuses on the concentration camp in Topaz, Utah. The isolation, displacement, and inhumanity emphasized in Otsuka’s narrative highlights the central issue I analyze surrounding the effects of assimilation in my paper.

Location

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

Start Date

29-4-2017 10:20 AM

End Date

29-4-2017 10:40 AM

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Apr 29th, 10:20 AM Apr 29th, 10:40 AM

Assimilation: A Debunked Notion

DeRosa University Center, Room 211

America as a nation has always been viewed as this “melting pot” of ethnicities and races. The idea behind the notion of a “melting pot” is that any ethnicity or race could become a part of American society. In order to do this, the given ethnic minority would have to first conform to a type of westernization that would allow them to become unmistakably American. This process of westernization is also known by the term assimilation. In spite of this notion of assimilation, it seems that this does not apply to all ethnicities. In accordance with historical events, we’ve seen that the only ethnic minorities that are able to become a part of American society are those that are viewed as “white.” Those that are viewed as non-white are barred from becoming a part of American society, even if they do appear to have been through this process of assimilation. In my paper I highlight a particular example of this: the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII. Specifically I look at the issue of exclusion of non-white minorities from the perspective given in Julie Otsuka’s novel, When the Emperor Was Divine. Otsuka opens by introducing a group of unnamed characters as a typical American family, highlighting especially the two children who do not identify with Japanese culture at all as they can not even speak Japanese. The specific use of a desert landscape, a typical symbol associated with cowboys and the concept of freedom in classical American literature, further hones in on the Japanese American family’s status as outsiders and un-American as Otsuka purposefully focuses on the concentration camp in Topaz, Utah. The isolation, displacement, and inhumanity emphasized in Otsuka’s narrative highlights the central issue I analyze surrounding the effects of assimilation in my paper.