Diane Carol FujinoNov 25, 2023
The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Michael Yasutake
University of Washington Press 2020
This episode, which is co-hosted with Michael Nishimura, features a conversation with Dr. Diane C. Fujino, the author of Nisei Radicals: The Feminist Poetics and Transformative Ministry of Mitsuye Yamada and Reverend Michael Yasutake (University of Washington Press, 2020).
The book traces the activism of two siblings who charted their own paths for what it meant to be Nisei. Reverend Mike was an Episcopal minister whose politics changed with the historical contexts and circumstances surrounding his life, whereas Mitsuye is one of the most widely known Nisei feminists and writers and was among the first writers to discuss the experience of incarceration. Through detailing their half-century of dedication to global movements, including multicultural feminism, Puerto Rican independence, Japanese American redress, and Indigenous sovereignty, Reverend Mike and Mitsuye’s lives complicate the dominant narrative that depicts Japanese Americans moving toward conservatism in the later part of the 20th century. Their lives present, in the words of Fujino, “a song of hope that transforms the ruptures and displacement of incarceration and atomic bombs, that moves from invisibility to insurgent mobilizations, and that rejects the projected polite politics of the Nisei to build, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., ‘a world transcending citizenship’ that demands in/sight for the blind, food for all those who hunger, and liberation for the captive, for all of us bound by colonial, racial, and patriarchal structures” (p.190).
Dr. Fujino is a professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Broadly, her research examines Japanese and Asian American activist history within an Asian American Radical Tradition and shaped by Black Power and Third World decolonization. Nisei Radicals joins her other political biographies including Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama (University of Minnesota Press, 2005), Samurai among Panthers: Richard Aoki on Race, Resistance, and a Paradoxical Life (University of Minnesota Press, 2012). She is also co-editor of Contemporary Asia American Activism: Building Movements for Liberation (University of Washington Press, 2022).
Donna Doan Anderson (she/her) is a PhD candidate in History and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Michael Nishimura (he/him) is a graduate student in Sociology and Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.