Terrain of Memory
A Japanese Canadian Memorial Project
For communities who have been the target of political violence, the after-effects can haunt what remains of their families, their communities, and the societies in which they live.
Terrain of Memory tells the story of Japanese Canadians elders who built a memorial in 1994 to mark a village in an isolated mountainous valley in British Columbia with their history of persecution. Unlike conventional narratives about the history of Japanese Canadian internment camps, this book focuses on the power of collective memory to commemorate a site of political violence and rebuild relations of trust and understanding. This book presents the challenges the elders faced, including the reluctance of some to excavate the village’s painful past and attempts to turn the memorial into a tourist site. It shows how their memorial transformed the valley where once over 7,000 women, men, and children were interned into a pilgrimage site for Japanese Canadians where they can mourn and pay their respects to the wartime generation.
Terrain of Memory will appeal to those interested in Japanese Canadian internment camps and the history of racial cleansing in modern nation states as well as those wanting a deeper understanding of the power of collective memory.
Terrain of Memory is a powerful contribution to cultural studies and memory work...employing an approach that scrutinizes with exacting honesty her moments of crisis, blockages, and breakthroughs, McAllister unfolds a scholarly activist praxis that is ethical, inventive, inimitable, and suffused with dramatic emotional struggle.
The novelty of the subject, distinctive methodological approach, engaging voice, and sophisticated analysis makes Terrain of Memory a worthwhile selection for public history classes seeking to model how to understand both past and present meanings of monuments and memorials, though the more analyti-cal sections may be more appropriate for advanced rather than introductory.
Terrain of Memory is an important, irreplaceable book for its intellectual acuity, its ethnographic precision, its historical and archival capaciousness, and its writerly beauty, bravery, and openness. It contributes immeasurably to work on state violence, racialization, trauma, and community memory across the humanities and social sciences; as it educates its readers about the trials of Japanese Canadians in the years around World War II, it provides an exemplary analysis of the multiple ways the work of memory never ends.
Terrain of Memory is a compelling and in-depth study of the processes and forms of collective remembering and memorializing among groups who experienced persecution and political violence. Set within the broader arena of Canadian postwar politics of redress and reconciliation, this book is a useful text for students and a valuable source for community workers and cultural and human rights organizations concerned with reparation and human rights.
What is most powerful about Terrain of Memory is its simultaneous acknowledgement of that which exceeds its representational capacity and its vigilant attempts to capture and honour the stories of the interviewees. For a text that examines the memory work of Japanese Canadian internment, its significance extends beyond the subject of its enterprise. Terrain of Memory produces its own form of memorialization, offering a model of ethical, engaged scholarship that self-consciously notes the conditions of its own production by paying tribute to the voices that give it its form.
I laughed, I cried, I read with wonder and astonishment and awe. McAllister’s prose is haunting and erudite, a remarkable, evocative story of the meanings and memories that linger uncannily in the walls, the ground, the minds of Japanese Canadians interned at the Orchard and other sites. She maps a journey both personal and communal that will resonate with scholars, activists, and community members. What an amazing contribution to our understanding of the terrain on memory.
Introduction: The Drive to Do Research
1 A Necessary Crisis
2 Mapping the Spaces of Internment
3 The Chronotope of the (Im)memorial
4 Continuity and Change between Generations
5 Making Space for Other Memories in the Historical Landscape
6 In Memory of Others
Conclusion: Points of Departure
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