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In this episode we connect with Stephanie Hinnershitz, author of the book Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II. We discuss the work Japanese Americans did while incarcerated following Executive Order 9066. Many were tasked with maintaining the camps, while others were hired out to be day laborers for other farmers. Stephanie explains the thin line between forced labor and coerced labor, and how the WRA found their way around the language and encouraged the incarcerees to work to support the war effort and showcase their loyalty.
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Stephanie Hinnershitz is an author and historian with the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. She has previously taught at Valdosta State University and Cleveland State University. In addition to her professorships, her research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, the Office of Diversity at the United States Military Academy at West Point, the Library of Congress, and the American Council of Learned Societies.
She is the author of Race, Religion, and Civil Rights: Asian Students on the West Coast, 1900-1968, A Different Shade of Justice: Asian American Civil Rights in the South, and Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor during World War II, which won the 2022 Philip Taft Labor History Award from the Labor and Working Class History Association and Cornell University Industrial Labor Relations School.
"and that was this light bulb, this moment for me of, 'Holy crap! They're actually using the same principle when it comes to Japanese Americans that was used to justify the release of convicts to go labor.'"
Medium History explores memories and moments through creativity and expression, capturing the cultural ethos of that time and place through storytelling and representation. Visual material culture, such as art, and other multimodal forms can elicit responses, emotions, and opinions—human expressions, tied to temporal and cultural aesthetics. This program explores how creative mediums provide context for history beyond dates, and names, and figures.
Partnering with Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University, this series will explore how comics, comic books, and graphic novels from and about the Japanese American Incarceration following Executive Order 9066, humanize the tragic experience, allowing the stories to live long past the lives of those who experienced it, and ensuring this never happens again. Supported by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, a state-funded grant project of the California State Library, this series is designed to be a companion to the interactive web project, Images and Imaginings of Internment: Comics and Illustrations of Camp.
Guest: Stephanie Hinnershitz
Hosts: Jon-Barrett Ingels
Produced by: Past Forward
[00:00:03] Stephanie Hinnershitz: Then these farmers and the people who were at the forefront are saying they need to be removed, they start to make request to the army to release Japanese Americans to come back into the military exclusion zones so that they can be used to harvest crops, to plants crops, all of these different things. The army, at first, is horrified by that because their argument is, "We can't do that. We just removed people claiming that they're a military risk, so this is something that we really can't do at this point."
All of these farmers who find out just how reliant they are upon Japanese American labor, they start making these claims of, "Yes, maybe most Japanese Americans are a security risk, but not 'our Japanese Americans'. Our Japanese Americans are good, and they're loyal, and we should be able to take them back."
[00:00:53] Host: Welcome to Medium History. A collaboration between Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at Chapman University and the curious minds at Past Forward. This series is an exploration of history through multimodal art and expression, allowing us to uncover hidden complexities often overlooked by conventional textbooks. We observe visual material culture. That is the art, artifacts, music, storytelling, fashion, and other expressions of a particular time period, and consider its profound impact on our understanding of the past going beyond mere dates and names to reveal the multifaceted layers of the human experience.
It's about immersing ourselves in the emotions, opinions, and cultural subtleties that mold our world. In this series, we engage with authors, artists, and educators to cast a fresh perspective on the history of Japanese American incarceration through the lens of creativity and expression, specifically the lens of the comic book and the graphic novel.
I'm your host, Jon-Barrett Ingels. In this episode, we connect with Stephanie Hinnershitz, author of the book Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor During World War II to discuss what is meant by the term coerced labor and how that coercion was another upfront to the civil liberties of the 120,000 incarcerated Japanese Americans. Thank you for listening.
"There were all these pressures that were put on Japanese Americans by the camp administrators, by the army, to, basically, prove their loyalty through their work if they wanted to purchase things from the camp canteens."
I want to talk about the term, “coerced labor.” When you have 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast forced to leave their homes, their jobs, their property, and relocate to assembly centers, and eventually prison camps. They were essentially made to pay for these camps, and therefore, needed wages to pay for it. I know I'm oversimplifying this, but it's this manipulation of terms in order to achieve this effect, correct?
[00:03:08] Stephanie: Yes. I actually, when I was thinking about the title for my book, which has “coerced labor” in the title, went back and forth a little bit with editors, and also some of the reviewers, and some of my colleagues who are historians about what should we call the labor that Japanese Americans did while they were in the centers and the camps. It gets into this really unique and tricky conversation about what is the most appropriate term.
When I first started to write the book, I talked about it in terms of forced labor, because my idea was they are forcibly removed from their homes on the West Coast, they are held in these camps, first they're transferred there, or transported there by the army, and then the War Relocation Authority keeps them there. While they're there, they do work, and they are expected to work, not only to help make the camps be self-sufficient, also to save the camp some money, also to improve morale. The idea was to make them feel like they as much of a "normal life" as they could have. This was something that the army took very seriously, and the War Relocation Authority took seriously, at no point should any Japanese American who was detained in one of these camps be forced to work. The government wanted to be very clear that no one is being forced to work. No one is basically enslaved. No one is being made to do this.
[00:04:43] Host: They're forced to be there-
[00:04:45] Stephanie: They're forced to be there--
[00:04:46] Host: -but not forced to work, yes.
[00:04:47] Stephanie: [laughs] Right, but once they're there, they're not required to work. They signed a contract, there were wages. These were things that the government made very clear as proof, that proved to the rest of America, look, they're not forced to work. I would say they are, but it was tricky because I didn't, and some of the reviewers of the manuscript wanted to make it clear that this is not slave labor, that this is not slavery. There's a distinct difference there. Then I started to think about, is coercion the better term, because they-- technically, they received wages. There were some back payments and issues with that, but they weren't "forced", but they were coerced.
There were all these pressures that were put on Japanese Americans by the camp administrators, by the army, to, basically, prove their loyalty through their work if they wanted to purchase things from the camp canteens. Sometimes extra food, if you had a special diet, you might have to purchase things from the canteen. At first, purchasing things like baby formula, just extra things that basically were necessities, but the camp administrators did not see as necessities. How are you going to get that? You need to have money to be able to do that. Some Japanese Americans, if they were involved in manual labor, they needed special clothing or tools to be able to do their jobs, they had to pay for those.
If you start a job, you're not getting paid, so you do basically go into debt to the camp store while you wait to get your money. I would argue, and I do. That's the point of the book, is that this was coerced labor. They were not forced to, but they were really coerced to work.
[00:06:34] Host: Those that chose not to work, or were unable to work, were charged. There's a fee, correct? I think I remember reading a--
[00:06:42] Stephanie: That was the idea at first. There was this discussion early on, even before the Japanese Americans got transferred and put into the camps by the army, or even the centers, there was this discussion that if you are able-bodied and you do not work, you will have to pay a fee. You will have to pay a fee directly to the camp, which will then go into the United States Treasury. That is scrapped because then that plays into this idea that there is an element of forced labor.
[00:07:12] Host: Right, right.
[00:07:12] Stephanie: That was a very real discussion. There was a discussion that if you can work, and you are able-bodied, and you're not, you need to pay your way. You would be paying for your confinement, so that was a discussion. That's not what happens, but when Japanese Americans are released early on to go do farm labor, they do sign the contract when they go to work for private employers, that at any moment if they go to do their work and they don't do their work, for whatever reason, there's no justifiable reason for them not to work, then they have to pay back lost wages.
Then they have to basically have their wages garnished because they violated their agreement. It is really tricky, but there was a conversation about making Japanese Americans who could work, but choose not to, have to basically pay for their own detention.
"This was a way for the War Relocation Authority to justify its existence while also cutting costs. Having Japanese Americans be self-sufficient, and to grow their own food, and then to make war material that the army needed, and military needed."
[00:08:08] Host: It's also, it created this closed loop for the government because a lot of the work they were doing, like you said, either went to maintain the camp that they were held in, or it went for helping the war effort. Whether it was through actually creating things that the army and military needed, or if it was helping with agriculture, and food supply. They got paid to create these items for the war effort and for the government to only have to put the money that they made back into the camps, which went right back to the government, so it was just a circle.
[00:08:55] Stephanie: Yes. It really was on behalf of the government. Horrible, but also pretty ingenious that this was the way to cut costs while these camps-- these weren't cheap. They're not cheap to run, and we're in the middle of a war. This was a way for the War Relocation Authority to justify its existence while also cutting costs. Having Japanese Americans be self-sufficient, and to grow their own food, and then to make war material that the army needed, and military needed.
You're right, it's a loop, and just keeps feeding into this war machine that was going on at the time in the country. It's something that working at the museum I like to think about and add to the conversation. We talk about mobilization on the home front, this arsenal of democracy, ironically. There's a part of it that is dependent upon the coerced labor of American citizens. That's something I'm really interested in.
[00:09:51] Host: The wages that they're receiving were barely a livable wage. It's not like people were putting money in savings and leaving with a surplus after the war ended and the camps were closed.
[00:10:06] Stephanie: Yes. The wages that they received, and they received them monthly, were at far below what the going wages were for people who were doing the same jobs outside of the camps. I'm trying to remember the exact numbers off the top of my head now, and I think I mentioned this in the book, but if you think of the standard Rosie the Riveter, and what a woman is making working in a defense industry or defense plant, she would be bringing in per week, basically, what a Japanese American woman who helped to make camouflage netting in the camps was bringing in in a month. That's a big discrepancy.
The argument that the army and the government gave was, well, we're basically providing them with food, we're providing them with housing so they don't have to take those costs out of their paycheck, which was a bogus claim, but another element of how this labor was coerced. The wages were far different. They're not saving money. There's not an element of that. They're not leaving the camps with more money than they had.
There are interesting discussions that historians and economists, who have become more recently interested in this topic have about-- I'm not trying to say was there anything good that came out of this. By no means am I saying that, or, and I don't think they are saying that either. For especially Japanese American women, for Nisei women, they had opportunities in the camps to do labor like nursing, teaching. that they would not have had opportunities to do outside of the camps because there might have been competition with white women for those jobs.
In a weird way, there is that opportunity, but that's within this very coercive system. There's a lot of conversations about what's the long-term economic impact of incarceration, and across the board, without a doubt, it's more negative than positive for sure.
[00:12:06] Host: I think one of the most fascinating things about reading this story, and I don't know why I never thought about why, but the decisions for where these camps were and the economic advantages of having laborers in these camps to develop the land and build irrigation. Again, I've been studying this for so long, and that never connected and it was fascinating and sad at the same time.
[00:12:40] Stephanie: It never connected for me either. I will say, I'm from Pennsylvania originally, so central Pennsylvania, this was a topic that I never learned a lot about in high school, not even in college, and really not even in grad school. I specialized in Asian American history in grad school, and it was barely covered as a topic. I grew up, the little that I knew about it, knew where the camps were. They're in these desolate, very rural, isolated areas. I always thought, like a lot of people do, they're located there because they are isolated. If the government--
[00:13:17] Host: That's, yes.
"The idea was, here is an opportunity to use labor, cheap labor to complete these irrigation systems that will improve the land and make them more beneficial for the foreseeable future. That was really a guiding principle in where the camps were located."
[00:13:18] Stephanie: The government believed that these individuals were a security threat, then you want to put them in an area that is as removed from manufacturing centers, military installations, and the general public as much as possible. They also still needed to be located near a transportation system so that the Japanese Americans could be removed from point A and get them to point B. I never really considered the labor aspect either until I was in the archives.
Then I started to read reports while the War Relocation Authority and the army were trying to figure out where to put these camps. They had a series of requirements. At the top of the list was, is there access to labor opportunities for Japanese Americans?
Reason for that is twofold, one, this standard idea that Japanese Americans need to work to maintain the morale, keep them busy, idle hands are the devil's work, that old saying. Then also, can they be used to improve the land? For example, the camps in Arizona, there were irrigation systems that needed to be completed. They lost funding for these projects during the war. We shift priorities. The idea was, here is an opportunity to use labor, cheap labor to complete these irrigation systems that will improve the land and make them more beneficial for the foreseeable future. That was really a guiding principle in where the camps were located. I had never thought of that until I really got deep into the archives and saw that as a requirement, and it changed things for me in how I think about this topic.
[00:14:57] Host: With 120,000 people being removed, and I know some are children and some are aged out of the workforce, that's still a large number of workers taken out of the workforce. You had written about 45% of the incarcerated Japanese Americans worked in agriculture here on the West Coast. This region is the vegetable basket for America. When you remove that many workers, what does that do? When you remove that many agriculture and farm workers that provide such a large percentage of produce for the nation, what does that do to the economy and to the country?
[00:15:43] Stephanie: The very people who were calling for the mass removal of Japanese Americans from the west coast, a good number of them were farmers or wholesalers. They were people who for decades had been concerned about Japanese Americans having unequal access to land. For all sorts of purposes, their argument was, it's unfair that Japanese Americans have unfettered access to this land. They're pushing white farmers out, taking away those opportunities.
They really push and advocate for the removal of Japanese Americans once Pearl Harbor hits. Those same people, we're talking about within a span of two or three months, those same people by March, April, May of 1942, realized that now they have a labor shortage, and they don't have the laborers that they need to be able to grow the stuff that they need to buy to sell. Also, they don't have these partnerships. There is a serious labor shortage now.
Then these farmers and the people who were at the forefront of saying they need to be removed, they start to make requests to the army to release Japanese Americans to come back into the military exclusion zones so that they can be used to harvest crops, to plant crops, all of these different things. The army at first is horrified by that because their argument is, we can't do that. We just removed people claiming that they're a military risk, so this is something that we really can't do at this point.
All of these farmers who find out just how reliant they are upon Japanese American labor, they start making these claims of, yes, maybe most Japanese Americans are security risk, but not "our Japanese Americans", our Japanese Americans are good and they're loyal and we should be able to take them back.
It is immediate that the upcoming harvest season, when you get into the fall, summer of 1942, that there will be a shortage and this will have an impact on that war effort. You need some of these crops, especially beets, so especially sugar beets in the mountain areas, Colorado, the Dakotas, those are needed not just for farmers to make money, but they are crucial for producing certain war materials like rubber, the sugar that comes from beets is very important for that. It's made very visible early on that this whole process has created an agricultural shortage of labor in that area.
[00:18:15] Host: Well, and then those farmers in California on the west coast would've been taking in a lot of-- if they were able to return and work, it would've been a boon for them because they're taking people who ran their own farms and had their own workers to come in and just be basically farm laborers which is what ended up happening, not in the west coast, but in those mountain regions. When you think of farmer, we did, if you're not familiar with that or you have never lived in that, it is just this blanket term of farmer, but they were specialized farmers.
[00:18:56] Stephanie: Absolutely. Many of the Japanese Americans who owned their own property and were very successful farmers, who were removed and then detained, they were really specialized in truck farming. Smaller crops, not these massive wheat fields or even sugar beet fields, that wasn't what they made their success on. It was very specific crops, strawberries, asparagus, lettuce. These were things that they cornered in on because they had the knowledge about irrigation. You're exactly right, this was not large-scale farming.
Also, a lot of the individuals who were released from the camps to go help with farming were young college-aged men who, in some cases, had never done any farming in their life. They had never really done a lot of manual labor. Their parents worked very hard so that they could go to school. That's another-- it backfires in some ways for these farmers because they get these huge groups of young.
Some teenagers are barely adults and they don't know what they're doing. They signed up for a chance to get out of camp and to try and make some money, but they have no idea what they're doing. You're exactly right. This very broad stereotype of all Japanese-Americans are great farmers, without understanding exactly what that meant. There is a difference. There certainly is a difference in that.
[00:20:25] Host: What was the draw for these young men to leave? Was it just to get a little taste of freedom outside of the camp? Because what they were going to was hard labor, long hours and almost worse conditions a lot of times than what they experienced in the camp.
[00:20:44] Stephanie: There were a lot of letters that were written from young men who go off the camp property to go and work, especially in bee harvesting and in bee planting. They send letters back to the employer director at the different camps. There's massive collections of all these. The reasonings that they give for why they decided to do this, really does come down to, they wanted to get out of the camps. They wanted a little bit of freedom. There are a lot of individuals who do this, who say it was really great just to have a taste of a steak and some beer.
To be able to just to go and get out and see what's out there, break free for a little bit. Then they're met in a lot of cases, with conditions that were worse. There are a lot of instances of them falling into these situations that I would say closely resemble indentured servitude. The idea was, these employers were not supposed to make any of their employees pay for lodging, for food. They were supposed to be provided with those things. It was technically illegal for them to garnish wages. In a lot of cases, that was completely ignored.
These young men are writing. "It's been months since I saw a paycheck. We barely have anything to eat. We were supposed to have a kitchen so we could cook our own meals. There's no kitchen here. There's one little hot plate and that's it. We had our wages deducted because we needed certain things and the crops had not come in yet." There were conditions that were worse. They were far worse than they were actually in the camps, and that was a hard dose of reality for a lot of these kids, basically, who wanted to get out and go see what was out there. Then they're smacked in the face with the reality of this coerced labor situation.
"...they want to be able to prove that they are patriotic and loyal. Especially the Nisei who saw themselves as certainly more American than Japanese. They couldn't even speak Japanese. They had never been in Japan. They liked to eat 'American food' just like their white friends that they went to school with. They wanted to prove and to show that they were just as good as anyone else."
[00:22:48] Host: One of the other things I found interesting you wrote about, in the early stages in the assembly centers, that there was this desire from the incarcerated Japanese-Americans to want labor opportunities, to want a work schedule in order to not be idle, but also, and this blows my mind the most, but to show loyalty and to help America with the war effort.
[00:23:21] Stephanie: Like the case with many Americans at the time, they wanted to demonstrate their worth. They wanted to get behind the war effort. There was that drive from a lot of Americans to do this. Then an even heightened sense of needing to do that among Japanese-Americans, that they needed to do this. That was sad and unfortunate, but they want to be able to prove that they are patriotic and loyal. Especially the Nisei who saw themselves as certainly more American than Japanese. They couldn't even speak Japanese. They had never been in Japan. They liked to eat "American food" just like their white friends that they went to school with. They wanted to prove and to show that they were just as good as anyone else. Again, that was something that the administrators played upon. A way to say, "Hey, if you want to demonstrate that you're loyal, here's an opportunity to do it. What better way than to help make war goods that will help us to win the war against fascism? That is, if you read these camp newspapers, which are an interesting source."
Every camp in the assembly centers, incarcerates were allowed to publish their own bulletins and their own newspapers, and they were heavily censored, so you got to read between the lines a little bit with some of these, but there are a lot of calls for, here's an opportunity to prove ourselves. We want to be able to work. Even if that is something that it's possibly a front. They're still using the papers to show the administrators and to show everyone that, “We're on board with this, we're not the soil. You can trust us and we're as willing to help win the war as anyone else.”
"Fine, you want to see us as labor? That's what you see us as? Then we're going to double down and we're going to start making demands. If you don't change things, we're going to go on strike, and then let's see how well the camps function without us working."
[00:25:12] Host: There was pushback. This wasn't a blanketed support of all who were incarcerated. There was a lot of resistance and pushback. Not just for the actual incarceration, but for the protection of the workers' rights and the rights in the camp. Will you talk a little bit about some of that resistance?
[00:25:41] Stephanie: World War II, we're coming out of The Depression. During the '30s, this was a huge, in some cases, victory for the labor movement. You have for really the first time, I'm not saying everything is perfect, but for the first time, the federal government is recognizing the right of labor to push for fair wages, to be able to go on strike, to be able to push for labor rights. Even for Japanese-Americans who were in the camps and in the assembly centers, they realize that. They know that. That doesn't go away. Sure, they want to work. They want to prove their loyalty.
They want to work because they want to do something, they want to feel useful in the camps, but for many of them, they're not going to do that at the expense of getting paid nothing. They're not going to do that at the expense of never seeing their wages. They're not going to do that at the expense of being forced to work in less than ideal conditions that make them physically sick or hurt them. They are going to push back because they want the administration to know that, "Sure, we're in these camps and we're detained, but we are still workers, we're still Americans and we still have access to rights."
I think that if you look at this whole story, to me, that's one of the most inspiring thing, is that you do have these individuals who have had many of their rights completely stripped during the war, and then they're still holding on to, "Fine, you want to see us as labor? That's what you see us as? Then we're going to double down and we're going to start making demands. If you don't change things, we're going to go on strike, and then let's see how well the camps function without us working." It's really great to read and to know that they knew exactly where the pressure point was.
They knew that these camps are self-sufficient, and they're not going to be self-sufficient if they're not working. There can be all kinds of punishments doled out and there can be conflict, but they really had a good understanding that if nothing else, even if their rights had been stripped, they still have a little bit of power that they can wield when it comes to labor. I think that's a really important part of the story and reframing this whole chapter as labor history, because you do see a moment of agency. Even when they don't have much of it, they have it there. I think that's a really inspiring part of a bigger history of labor in the United States.
[00:28:13] Host: Were there other protections in place for the laborers aside from their ability to protest and strike? Also aside from this fine line of not being forced labor. It felt like that created a protection and a barrier from how bad it could get. Were there other protections? Were there others looking out for and trying to protect the workers?
[00:28:41] Stephanie: There were. To bring it back to the contract, and that's a really important part of this, they did sign a contract. There were certain protections that were released on paper, if not entirely in practice, but there were protections that were guaranteed by the US Employment Office, by employment representatives in the camps, especially for those who were released to go work off property. Again, there were challenges then and it wasn't perfect, but that contract did give them some rights, and it did give them access to agencies that could argue on their behalf for when things and guarantees were not upheld. Those did exist.
That contract was important. If they were injured on the job, they could seek assistance, medical assistance. They could still get their wages if they were injured. That was a guarantee that was given to them in a protection. In an interesting way though, in some cases, they did not have as many protections as basically prisoners of war had. That's an interesting contrast where if you have German POWs in the US working, they have some guarantees and protections under Geneva Convention. They have to get paid this amount of money.
Payment has to be on the part of their rank. They can't be forced to make these particular goods. There's different protections there that Japanese American citizens did not have, but because they were citizens and because they did sign a contract, there were these opportunities to at least be able to have some ground to stand on if those guarantees were not being met. Those do exist. They did exist. They were opportunities, and they did create an opportunity for them to be able to make some demands.
[00:30:33] Host: What was the most surprising thing that you learned during your research for this book?
[00:30:40] Stephanie: I would have to say it was call it the smoking gun document that I found, and that was this memo that one of the war relocation lawyers had drafted up. When Lieutenant General John DeWitt, who was the general commanding the Western Defense Command, and really the guy behind the decision to focus on Japanese Americans, those of Japanese descent, removing them from the West Coast. When he starts to get inundated with all these requests by private farmers to release Japanese Americans, and when DeWitt starts to get pressure from the War Department and from Franklin Roosevelt himself that he should allow this to happen, he has a lot of questions like, "Can we do this?"
They're not prisoners, but they're under army control in the centers. His big hurdle challenge in this is if we release them to go work in the very areas that we force them to be removed from, does that mean they are given freedom now? Does that mean that they can't be excluded and therefore they're no longer under army control? There's a real thing that he had a question about, and so he reached out to one of the lawyers for the War Relocation Authority, Maurice Walk, and he basically asks Walk, "If we allow them to be released, do they have to come back to the centers? Or now have we crossed some weird legal line where they're no longer under the control?"
Walk thinks about it, and he does his research, and he comes back with this pretty lengthy memo that he sends DeWitt, basically offering DeWitt some explanations for why he can release them, but they will still be under control of the army, and it all boils down to this idea of constructive custody, and I'd never heard of that before, no idea what that was, and I started to read about Walk's justification for this. It turns out this was the principle that a lot of prisons used to release convicts to go labor in the south after reconstruction, and this idea that they're basically on loan to private employers or to other employers, but they always will be called back.
Walk makes this connection between convicts and how Japanese Americans who are in camps, what sort of category they fall under, and that was this light bulb, this moment for me of, “Holy crap! They're actually using the same principle when it comes to Japanese Americans that was used to justify the release of convicts to go labor.” That was a key moment for me. It was plainly laid out there that it's the same concept and how we're going to be viewing Japanese Americans essentially as prison labor. It's the same principle there. That changed my framework for the book because at first I was really looking at it as like it was a labor history.
It was just what kind of work was being done? I wanted to make this case of, well, if a lot of historians are moving to calling this whole process not internment, but incarceration, and we're going to call the camps prison camps rather than relocation centers. To me, that meant that, well, then the work that they're doing in the camps, that's prison labor, but I felt a little weird hanging my hat on that. It just didn't seem to connect, and then I found that document, and I'm like, oh, wow, okay. Now I feel like I've got some ground to stand on because the explanation is constructive custody, and that's rooted in convict lease labor. That, I would say, was probably the most surprising thing. I really didn't expect to have that laid out so clearly.
[00:34:27] Host: We'd like to thank Stephanie Hinnershitz for her time, her expertise, and her passion. Medium History is produced by Chapman University’s Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Past Forward. For more socially conscious content, visit pastforward.org or follow us on Apple, Spotify or wherever you podcast.
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