The mass incarceration of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II is a powerful but often occluded illustration of the fragility of US citizenship and civil liberties. As such, this event demands frequent reexamination in relation to ongoing conversations regarding post-9/11 special registration, detention, and deportation, as well as long-standing formal and informal practices of profiling and surveillance of communities of color. This daylong conference presented a three-part program examining: 1) the history of the Japanese American incarceration and how it is made meaningful to multiple publics in different locations – higher education, museums, and our national landmarks; 2) artists who deploy this history as relevant to their artistic and political practices in the present; 3) the legal significance of the incarceration to contemporary local and national state policies directed against communities of color.


Conference Program

1. 9:00AM – 10:00AM: Registration & Coffee/Tea

2. 10:00AM – 10:15AM: Introductions

  • Jennifer Hayashida, Director of the Asian American Studies Program, Hunter College

3. 10:15AM – 11:00AM: Keynote Address

  • Norman Mineta, 14th United States Secretary of Transportation

4. 11:00AM – 12:30PM: Panel I: Teaching the Limits of Citizenship to Multiple Post-9/11 Publics

  • Heidi Kim, PhD, Assistant Professor, English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Greg Kimura, PhD, President/CEO, The Japanese American National Museum
  • Franklin Odo, PhD, Founding Director – Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

5. 12:30PM – 1:45PM: Lunch

6. 1:45PM – 3:15PM: Panel II: Dislocated Memories: Incarceration, Communities of Color & the Arts

  • Tomie Arai, Public Artist & Printmaker
  • Roger Shimomura, Artist & Distinguished Professor of Art Emeritus, The University of Kansas
  • Katie Yamasaki, Muralist & Children’s Book Author/Illustrator

7. 3:30PM – 5:00PM: Panel III: Legacies of the Incarceration in Surveillance & Policing of U.S. Communities of Color

  • Baher Azmy, Legal Director, The Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Kathryn Bannai, first lead attorney in Hirabayashi vs. US in 1982-1985
  • Amardeep Singh, Co-Founder & National Director of Programs, The Sikh Coalition

8. 5:00PM – 6:00PM: Reception


Tomie Arai  Public Artist & Printmaker

Tomie Arai is public artist who lives and works in NYC. She has designed both temporary and permanent public works of art for Creative Time, the US General Services Administration Art in Architecture Program, the NYC PerCent for Art Program, the Cambridge Arts Council, the MTA Arts for Transit Program, the New York City Board of Education and the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Tomie’s work has been exhibited nationally and is in the collections of the Library of Congress, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Japanese American National Museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She has been a recipient of two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Printmaking for 1991 and 1994; a 1995 Joan Mitchell Visual Arts Grant, a 1994 National Endowment for the Arts Visual Arts Fellowship for Works on Paper and three MidAtlantic Arts Foundation Visual Artists Residency Grants. In 1997, she was one of ten women nationwide to receive an Anonymous was a Woman Grant for achievement in the visual arts. In the year 2000, Tomie Arai was one of 50 artists nationwide to participate in the Artists & Communities: America Creates for the Millennium Project, sponsored by the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation and the NEA. She was a recipient of a 2003 MCAF grant, a 2007 Urban Artists Initiative Grant, a 2007 Arts and Activism grant from the Asian Women Giving Circle and a 2013 Puffin Foundation grant.

Baher Azmy  Legal Director, The Center for Constitutional Rights

Baher Azmy is the Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he directs a 25-person legal staff in litigation and advocacy around issues related to the promotion of civil and human rights, particularly in the areas of racial justice, government accountability, transnational justice and challenging executive-branch excesses in the post-9/11 era.  At CCR, Baher has litigated nationally-significant cases related to “stop and frisk” policing practices, prolonged solitary confinement, the rights of Guantanamo detainees, and accountability for victims of torture. Baher is on leave from his faculty position at Seton Hall University School of Law, where he taught Constitutional Law and directed the Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Clinic.  While a Clinical Law Professor, Baher represented Murat Kurnaz, a German resident of Turkish descent imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay by the U.S. military as a so-called “enemy combatant” until his release in August 2006, and litigated cases challenging police misconduct and violations of the rights of immigrants, prisoners, and the press. He has authored legal briefs in the Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court on various human rights and international law issues, testified before Congress, and produced substantial scholarship on issues related to access to justice.  He is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and of NYU School of Law, where he was also a Root-Tilden-Snow Public Interest Scholar.

Kathryn Bannai  First Lead Attorney in Hirabayashi vs. US in 1982-1985

Kathryn A. Bannai was the first lead attorney (from 1982 to early 1985) in the Hirabayashi v. United States coram nobis case, an action that successfully challenged Gordon Hirabayashi’s convictions for violating military orders that culminated in the removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast during World War II. In British Columbia, she practiced law and was a human rights adjudicator. In New Jersey, she conducted grievance hearings and handled discrimination complaints for Rutgers University.  Bannai has served on the Seattle Public Safety Civil Service Commission, on the Board of Trustees of Eastern Washington University, and as President of the Seattle Chapter of JACL. Currently, she is the President of the New York Chapter of the JACL, and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum.  She has a JD from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Jennifer Hayashida  Hunter College Asian American Studies Program Director

Poet, translator and visual artist Jennifer Hayashida was born in Oakland, CA, and grew up in the suburbs of Stockholm and San Francisco. She received her B.A. in American Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and completed her M.F.A. in poetry from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.She is the recipient of awards from, among others, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the New York Foundation for the Arts, PEN, the Witter Bynner Poetry Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony. She is the translator of Fredrik Nyberg’s A Different Practice (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007), and Eva Sjödin’s Inner China (Litmus Press, 2005) with recent translations of Karl Larsson and Athena Farrokhzad forthcoming in 2014. Her poetry and translations have been published in journals such as Salt Hill, Chicago Review, and Circumference, while her collaborations in film/video have been exhibited in the U.S. and abroad, including the Centre Pompidou, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the New Museum, and the Vera List Center for Art and Politics. Fields of interest include representations of the welfare state and immigrant experience; cross-genre literature and film; translation; Asian American community activism.

Ramzi Kassem  Associate Professor of Law & Director of the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic, CUNY

Ramzi Kassem is Associate Professor of Law at the City University of New York where he directs the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic.

With his students, Professor Kassem represents prisoners of various nationalities presently or formerly held at American facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, at so-called “Black Sites,” and at other detention sites worldwide. In connection with these cases, Professor Kassem and his students have appeared as party counsel and submitted merits briefs before U.S. federal district and appellate courts, before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as before the military commissions at Guantánamo.

Professor Kassem also supervises the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, which primarily aims to address the legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in the New York City area that are particularly affected by national security and counterterrorism policies and practices.

Before joining the CUNY law faculty in 2009, Professor Kassem was a Robert M. Cover Teaching Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School, where he taught in the Civil Liberties & National Security Clinic as well as the Worker & Immigrant Rights & Advocacy Clinic. Professor Kassem also previously served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where he taught in the International Justice Clinic.

As a Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Civil Rights Fellow at Cochran Neufeld & Scheck (now Neufeld Scheck & Brustin), Professor Kassem litigated high-impact cases stemming from wrongful convictions and police misconduct. He has also served as a legal consultant for the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Professor Kassem is a graduate of Columbia College and holds law degrees from Columbia Law School, where he was a Senior Editor for the Columbia Law Review, and from the Sorbonne. His interests include the legal and policy responses to the September 11th attacks and other national security crises, the rights of minorities and non-citizens, and international humanitarian law.

Heidi Kim  Assistant Professor, English, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Kim’s work ranges through nineteenth and twentieth-century American literature and Asian American studies. She edited Taken from the Paradise Isle, a book that incorporates a memoir, artwork, and correspondence of the Hoshidas, a Japanese American family from Hawai’i incarcerated during World War II (forthcoming from University Press of Colorado). She has also  published essays on the food policies of the camps and the legacy of the Korematsu case, and regularly teaches courses devoted to the history and literature of the Japanese American incarceration. Students in her classes created the digital humanities exhibit “Studying Poston” ( which showcases archival materials from the Poston incarceration camp. Kim is also working on a book of literary criticism, Invisible Subjects: Asian Americans in Cold War Literature and has published work on diverse subjects such as William Faulkner, Walt Whitman, and antislavery literature. Kim earned her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and her A.B. from Harvard University. She has been on the faculty of UNC since 2010.

Greg Kimura  President/CEO, The Japanese American National Museum

G. W. (Greg) Kimura, Ph.D. is the Japanese American National Museum’s President and Chief Executive Officer and immediate past president and CEO of the Alaskan Humanities Forum (Alaska’s state humanities council). Dr. Kimura has an extensive academic background as a department head and professor with a Masters in Divinity from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in philosophy of religion from Cambridge University. He is the author of fiction and nonfiction, including Neopragmatism and Theological Reason (Ashgate, 2007); Alaska at 50: The Past, Present, and Next Fifty Years of Statehood (U of Alaska Press, 2009); and the forthcoming Neopragmatism and Theological Method (Peter Lang).

Norman Mineta  Secretary, US Department of Transportation (Ret.) and founder of the Mineta Transportation Institute, lead agency of the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium

Norman Mineta, President and CEO of Mineta and Associates, LLC and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation, is well known for his work in the areas of transportation—including aviation, surface transportation and infrastructure—and national security. He is recognized for his accomplishments in economic development, science and technology policy, foreign and domestic trade, budgetary issues and civil rights.

Mineta’s career in public service has been both distinguished and unique. For almost 30 years, Mineta represented San Jose, California, first on the City Council, then as mayor and then as a member of the U.S. Congress. Throughout that time, Mineta was an advocate of the burgeoning technology industry. He worked to encourage new industries and spur job growth, and he supported the development of the infrastructure to accommodate the industry and its tremendous growth.

Mineta served as chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Public Works Committee from 1992 to 1994 and chaired the Subcommittee on Aviation and the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation. He was the primary author of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton appointed Mineta Secretary of Commerce. There, Mineta was known for his work on technology issues, for achieving international cooperation and intergovernmental coordination on complex fisheries issues and for streamlining the patent and trademark process.

President George W. Bush appointed Mineta Secretary of Transportation, where he served until 2006. Following the horrific terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, Mineta guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration—an agency with more than 65,000 employees— marking the largest mobilization of a new federal agency since World War II. Mineta was also a vice president of Lockheed Martin, where he oversaw the first successful implementation of the EZ-Pass system in New York State.

Recognized for his leadership, Mineta has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States—and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, which is awarded for significant public service of enduring value to aviation in the United States. While in Congress, he was the co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and chair of the National Civil Aviation Review Commission in 1997.

Franklin Odo  Founding Director - Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center

Franklin Odo was Founding Director of the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian Institution, 1997-2010. He was Interim Chief of the Asian Division, Library of Congress in 2011.

Odo was among the few faculty members when Asian American Studies was established at UCLA. He was professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of Hawai`i and visiting professor of History and/or American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Hunter College, Princeton, and Columbia Universities in the 1990s.

His book, No Sword to Bury: Japanese Americans in Hawai`i during World War II, was published by Temple University Press in 2004; he edited the Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience, published by Columbia University Press in 2002. Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i was published by Oxford in 2013.He has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Asian American Studies and a Distinguished Service Award from the Asian American Justice Center. Odo was appointed Humanist in Residence at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities at Brown University in April 2013. He currently leads a “Theme Study on Asian American Pacific Islanders” for the National Historic Landmarks Project of the National Park System.

Roger Shimomura  Artist & Distinguished Professor of Art Emeritus, The University of Kansas

Roger Shimomura’s painting, prints and theatre pieces address sociopolitical issues of ethnicity.  He was born in Seattle, Washington and spent two early years of his childhood in Minidoka (Idaho), one of 10 concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII.

Shimomura received a B.A. degree from the University of Washington, Seattle, and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University, New York.  He has had over 130 solo exhibitions of paintings and prints, as well as presented his experimental theater pieces at such venues as the Franklin Furnace, New York City, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. .  Shimomura has been a visiting artist and lectured on his work at more than 200 universities, art schools, and museums across the country. Among his numerous awards he was accorded the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the School of Arts & Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, in 2006.

During his teaching career at the University of Kansas he was the first faculty member to ever receive the Higuchi Research Prize (1998), the Chancellor’s Club Career Teaching Award (2002), and to be designated a University Distinguished Professor (1994).

Shimomura is in the permanent collections of over 90 museums nation wide. He is represented by galleries in NYC, Seattle, and Kansas City.

Amardeep Singh  Co-Founder & National Director of Programs, The Sikh Coalition

Amardeep Singh is the co-founder of the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States.  He currently serves as its Director of Programs where he oversees the Coalition’s use of litigation, advocacy and community organizing to advance social justice goals.

Amar has represented dozens of Sikh victims of airport profiling, employment discrimination, and hate crimes since the organization’s inception after 9/11. Along with Department of Homeland Security officials, he helped to formulate guidelines governing the searches of Sikh passengers in U.S. airports. His work also led to the formulation of a regulation protecting 1.1 million New York City public school students from bias-based harassment in schools.

He has represented the Sikh community during meetings with the United States Attorney General, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Secretary of Transportation, and the Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He has been quoted speaking on civil rights issues in the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN during his tenure at the Coalition.

Prior to joining the Coalition, Amar worked as a Researcher in the U.S. Program of Human Rights Watch (HRW). While at HRW, he authored its report, “We Are Not the Enemy: Hate Crimes Against Arabs, Muslims, and Those Perceived to be Arab or Muslim after September 11.”  Amar was also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race where he taught a course on the intersection of ethnic identity and the law.

Amar was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  He was also named a “Best Lawyer Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. He sits on the Board of Trustees of the Hoboken Public Library.

Herb Tam  Curator and Director of Exhibitions, Museum of Chinese in America

Herb Tam is the Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), New York where he recently curated exhibitions by documentary photographer Annie Ling and artist Tomie Arai about contemporary life in New York’s Chinatown. In 2012 he curated “America through a Chinese Lens,” which surveyed photographs of America by contemporary artists and non-professional photographers of Chinese descent. Tam has previously served as the Associate Curator at Exit Art and the Acting Associate Curator at the Queens Museum of Art. While at Exit Art, he curated “New Mirrors: Painting in a Transparent World”; and co-curated “Summer Mixtape Volume 1,” an exhibition exploring the role of pop music in the work of emerging artists. In 2007, Tam curated “A Jamaica, Queens Thing,” about the intersection between hip hop and the crack cocaine epidemic. He has also curated solo exhibitions with artists Lee Mingwei, Rafael Sanchez and Regina Jose Galindo, and has worked on historical exhibitions about urban planner Robert Moses and alternative art spaces in New York. Tam was born in Hong Kong and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He studied at San Jose State University and earned a masters in fine arts from the School of Visual Arts, New York.

Katie Yamasaki  Muralist & Children’s Book Author/Illustrator

Katie Yamasaki is a muralist, children’s book author/illustrator and teaching artist. Her work focuses on storytelling and building dialogues between diverse populations around the world.

From connecting incarcerated mothers to their children, to creating visual conversations between Cuban and New York City adolescents, Yamasaki’s projects utilize art as a bridge building tool, fostering dialogue where dialogue has been broken.

Yamasaki has painted over 50 murals globally and is currently working on her 5th book for children. Her most recent book, “Fish for Jimmy,” was published in 2013 and told the story of two brothers in the Japanese internment camps.

Yamasaki earned her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City where she is currently a faculty member. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.


The Color of Citizenship: Tracing the Legacies of Japanese Internment from WWII to Stop & Frisk | Posted on April 7th, 2014 | Faculty Seminars, Public Programs, Special Projects and Conferences