Landscapes of Injustice – Spring Institute
Summary of the Critique presented on April 29, 2015
The following are the main points from the Community Council’s summary report/critique presented on the final day:
1. Activism or Activist Scholarship? What processes might the project put into place while respecting the scholarly traditions of research? We ask that the project consider pointing the research into broader historic injustices in B.C.
2. Recognition and Respect There is a long legacy of Japanese Canadian leadership and scholarship. We note that the legacy of the scholarly work and writings by Japanese Canadians in the past and present are missing or positioned at the periphery in the research. Also missing or on the periphery are Japanese Canadians in the governance structure of the project. We suggest that the research teams could communicate their messages more effectively if they learn and draw from those who endured the injustices, and from those who were leaders during the Redress movement.
We encourage researchers to acknowledge that their material builds on the legacy of prior and present work by Japanese Canadians scholars. This is particularly important to counter perceptions that the research is being done by “outsiders” who are ignoring the totality of Japanese Canadian history, identity and politics. The Community Council offers to help the researchers understand the importance, complexity, and ethics of this task.
3. Lexicon and Baseline Knowledge We ask all project members to be aware of language used. e.g. the majority of those forcibly removed and dispossessed were Canadians/Japanese Canadians – not “the Japanese”. The Community Council and NAJC will on request assemble and provide materials to enhance essential knowledge of terminology and Japanese Canadian history for all involved in the project.
4. Ethics and Oral Histories We ask for a clearer accounting of the ethical consequences of the oral histories given during interviews. We are concerned that those interviewed may naively reveal stories that they do not want made public. What will happen to the personal stories after the research is completed? One of the goals of this project is to “tell the story” of Japanese Canadian internment through travelling museum exhibits, and to the public in diverse venues. How will their stories be used and respected? Could they be edited? Who will own the stories? Will the Japanese Canadian community have a voice in the subsequent use of the research?
5. Communication and Feedback The Community Council feels it needs a better picture of the ongoing research in order to fulfill our role. We ask for communication that would allow us to effectively prepare for the annual Institutes.
6. Mentorship and Legacy We ask that the students assisting in the research be chosen for their interests in Japanese Canadian history specifically and in social justice generally. We have a long history of challenges in building academic interest in Japanese Canadian studies within our community. We ask that both Japanese Canadian and non-Japanese Canadian students be encouraged to build their careers in this area in order to continue the legacy of our JC history and community.
7. Teamwork in Research A concern from the Community Council is that research teams are not connected or communicating with each other. While the academic integrity of the research is not our purview, this leads to the concern of the overall missing “voice” and the integration of the Japanese Canadian community in the research.
8. Public Education We suggest that the education aspect of the project begins immediately. Given that the public is already becoming aware of the project, a carefully developed, integrated, and ethical plan for public communication, display and dissemination of the research, and education in schools must begin immediately.