An Analysis of Modified Material Culture from Amache: Investigating the Landscape of Japanese American Internment

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Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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Swader, Paul
Digital Commons @ DU
Amache; Internment; Japanese American; Material Culture; Modification; Relocation
thesis / dissertation description
Modified material culture is a class of objects that indicates a transformation of material function. Archaeological research at the Japanese American internment camp in Granada, Colorado, called Amache, has recently uncovered artifacts featuring evidence of modification. Previous studies at internment camps have failed to include a comprehensive analysis of these artifacts; instead focusing on formal materials or aesthetic objects. This thesis investigates an assemblage of modified material culture identified at Amache and a collection from the Minidoka internment camp in Idaho. These artifacts provide insight into how internees responded to imprisonment. Through material culture studies, oral histories, and archival research, the use of these artifacts is examined within a context of confinement. This collection helps construct an internee landscape from which we may better understand the relationship between internee agency and internment social structure. In addition, by studying this evidence of adaptation this research aims to highlight the ingenuity of Japanese American internees and their ability to adapt and overcome the inhumane treatment experienced in the camp.