Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain

Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain: Networks, Power, and Everyday Life is the culmination of about fifteen years of research on the incarceration experiences of Japanese Americans.

As the United States entered World War II in 1941, persistent racism toward Japanese Americans came to a new head. All people of Japanese descent became a potential threat to most politicians and the general public. As a result, the US incarcerated everyone of Japanese origin regardless of age or background. Some 120,000 people were sent to ten prison camps across the country.

Map of United States with Japanese American incarceration camps.
Location of incarceration camps. Map by Heli Rekiranta. All rights reserved.

Most of my research has focused on the Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming. In my book, I discuss extensively the formal networks created by the inmates in the forms of political groups, social organizations, and workplaces. I hope you read the book, but here are two sample networks.

The individual ”nodes” (circles that represent the people and the groups) become clearer when you zoom in either with the tool on the right or with you mouse wheel. You can also drag the entire model on your screen for better viewability.

These models have been created with Gephi, converted with NoCode Functions, and shared through VosViewer.

Politics at Heart Mountain

This network represents the politics at Heart Mountain. It includes everyone who participated in camp politics between 1942 and 1945. I’ve only named the political groups, individuals are identified by their WRA family number. The colors are based on ”communities”: people and groups that have a lot of links amongst each other are grouped and colored together. You can change the color scheme and the size of the nodes by clicking the little arrow on the left.

Different options for sizing the nodes include in-degree (biggest groups become largest) and out-degree (individuals with most memberships become largest).

Through the same little arrow, you can also search for individuals or groups.

Fair Play Committee

The Fair Play Committee was the largest organized group of draft resisters at any of the incarceration camps. Over 80 young men were sentenced to prison sentences-for refusing to be drafted from a prison camp. Over a hundred more were members at one time or another.

This network includes all the known connections of Fair Play Committee members at Heart Mountain. I’ve named organizations and some of the leaders. Other individuals are identified with their WRA family number.

In this model, you can adjust the nodes by other centrality measures besides degree. For example, by selecting betweenness centrality, you can see the organizations (and in some cases individuals) that were perhaps the most important hubs where new members were recruited.