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How Japanese Women At Internment Camp Made Their Clothes Their Own

by Meiko Takechi Arquillos & Wendy Steiner

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“The pins struck me as a small and dignified act of rebellion. They are a symbol of defiance to the idea that all Japanese Americans shared a single identity or that their forced captivity would obliterate their creative spirit. After Executive Order 9066, which told all Japanese Americans to report to temporary detention centers (some of which were horse stalls), families were told to only bring what they could carry in their hands. It’s easy to see how quickly being assigned a sterile barrack number by a faceless government official could make someone feel like they’re not an individual. And that’s perhaps one of the cruelest things about involuntary detention: You take from a person their sense of self. To me, the pins were an incredibly scrappy defense against that evil.”

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