Nishimura, Amy

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    From Priestesses and Disciples to Witches and Traitors: Internment of Japanese Women at Honouliuli and Narratives of “Madwomen”
    (University of Hawaiʻi Press, 2014) Nishimura, Amy
    This paper will focus on two of the Japanese American women internees who shared a common variable regarding internment: they were Shinto priestesses or disciples studying the religion at the time of their incarceration. One woman in particular was well regarded within her community and had several followers or disciples; based on transcripts from her trial, retrial, and parole hearing, the questions and accusations leveled against her demonstrate social injustice based on the practice of religion. For another Japanese American woman internee, I will examine how she is objectified and subjected not only to unjust treatment but she is cast as social pariah and a triple-threat to society: Japanese, Shinto disciple, and misdiagnosed “madwoman.” Her records demonstrate the neglect of government officials to obtain treatment for her and clarify how she was subjugated to humiliating scrutiny by military authorities. What seems particularly poignant about her narrative are the reflective letters and poems that capture her angst; these letters and documents are addressed to military personnel who seemed to ignore her pleas. This paper will highlight not only civil rights violations endured by these and other women but I aim to argue how they were examined according to a Western patriarchal lens, preventing them from voicing (in their natural tongue) their identities.