Campu: Rocks

Campu: Rocks

Episode: Rocks

Series: Densho Blog, Campu

Release Date: 30 September 2020

Host: Hana and Noah Maruyama, from Densho Blog

Episode and Transcript Link:


History, Race, Immigration, Internment, War, WW2, Racism, 1940s, 20th Century, Asian American History, Japan, American History, Oral History, US History, US, Material Culture, Landscape, Environmental History, Memory


Oral History Interview/Narrative/Reflection: An overview of Japanese Internment (an intro to their Campu series) as told through oral history interviews. The episode features conversations with survivors and their relatives who discuss what hidden histories have been discovered through personal research.

Notes: Margaret Bergen: This podcast is important because, despite more than one hundred thousand civilians being interned, the larger societal shaming forced this period of history into silence. The podcast shows the weight of oral history within a family lineage, revealing how investigating your own family histories can help repair some of this damage by giving individuals a sense of their roots. Kera Lovell: This is a great podcast episode for an intro-level course. It brings innovative angles to the discussion of Japanese internment, such as the relationship between settler colonialism on indigenous lands and Japanese internment. In addition, this episode highlights topics I haven’t heard about regarding internment, including landscape design and material culture. The series in total would be great to assign in a higher-level history course or public history course because of their emphasis on classroom integration.

Peggie Yorita making jewelry from shells found within the confines of the Tule Lake concentration camp. Courtesy of the Bain Family Collection.

Assignment Ideas:

  • Archival Research: Because this podcast series is produced by an incredible archive about Japanese internment, we highly recommend checking out the Densho archive. The first place I would recommend looking is the transcript for this podcast episode. Within the episode transcript, you’ll find links to primary and secondary source material, including a panel on Japanese internment on indigenous lands, a documentary, and a wealth of other material. In addition, they provide brief lesson plans for each episode that include a set of discussion questions and a small assignment, which you can see here:

  • Laws in Society Comparison: In this podcast episode, the author compares the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Alien Land Laws, and the 1924 Immigration Act and the similar effects they had on the society around Asian-Americans. The laws were able to keep Asian-Americans from owning land, getting jobs, and becoming legal citizens of the USA. First, have students learn more about these on the Densho website. The, have students write a compare and contrast essay on those immigrant regulation laws with the internment of Japanese Americans. In what ways were Japanese immigrants and Japanese American citizens treated similarly? In what ways were the social repercussions of those laws different? This assignment is a two-page essay, three paragraph minimum, comparing two of the previously stated laws and their effect on each other and the society as a whole. If the students need tips on good comparison essays, take a look at for a little bit of help.

A Japanese tenant farmer who has just finished packing and preparing for the forced removal, May 1942. Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

Discussion Questions:

  • Quarantine during the Covid Pandemic is in no way equal to the experience of internment – but comparing the two does open a window onto the shared experience of boredom, fear, anxiety, and loneliness (or forced intimacy) of this captivity. If you experienced quarantine, what might be similar about your experience with those interned at the camps? In what ways did your quarantine during Covid help you empathize with the experience with internees? And, what are the biggest emotional differences between WW2 internment and your 21st century quarantine?

  • What does the word “camp”/”campu” mean for Japanese Americans?

  • How did the history of settler colonialism intersect with the history of Japanese incarceration?

  • How was internment a source of intergenerational trauma for Japanese Americans?

  • In the show, Vo says, “Silence can take up a lot of space.” What does that mean in the context of this history? What histories are often silenced and what are the impacts of that silencing on future generations?

  • If you were forced out of you life and your home tomorrow with only one suitcase to bring with you, what would you take with you? What if you didn’t know where you were going?

Tsuji Family at Heart Mountain ca. 1944 The family stands on the steps in front of their barrack. Back row: Kiyo, in his Military Intelligence Service uniform; Seiichi, Katsuko. Front row: Kinue, Seiichi‚Äôs wife; Seiyo; Fudeko. (Courtesy of the Tsuji Family.) “Schoolchildren at Minidoka incarceration camp, 1940s,” in Children and Youth in History, Item #314, (accessed June 7, 2021). Annotated by Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project

Other Relevant Sources:

Wiki Overview:

Archive: Densho:

Information: As mentioned earlier, the episode transcript includes embedded links on a wide array of internment topics mentioned in the episode. We really recommend perusing their embedded links that you can find here in red:

Book: Erica Lee, America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States:

Book: John Tateishi, Redress, The Inside Story Of The Successful Campaign For Japanese American Reparations, visit to buy the book, or rent it from a library (check for online copies through your library).

Website: An Op-ed article published by National Geographic about the hardships Japanese-Americans faced leading up to and during the camps (By: Erin Blakemore).

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