McLachlan, Michelle R.
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The wartime evacuation and relocation of those of Japanese descent from the U.S. West Coast was motivated, to a surprising extent, by competition over natural resources, particularly agricultural land, and by ideologies that defined both Asians, and what it meant to be an American, in environment-centered terms. The removal of evacuees to deserts and swamps in the nation’s interior culminated decades-long efforts by white Americans to restrict Japanese Americans to marginal lands; in the relocation centers, as in their pre-war lives, Japanese-American farmers met their forced encounters with marginality with innovative agricultural, technological, and labor strategies. In addition to implementing successful farming operations, Japanese Americans transformed their wartime surroundings through gardening and landscape design, revealing in the process important clues to their collective cultural and political values, as well as the values and motivations of their captors.