George Takei’s Petition to Preserve Access to Tule Lake Internment Camp

In a collision of many things discussed in this class–politics, representation, history, and critical cultural studies–outspoken actor, gay rights activist, social media guru, and Asian American pop culture hero, George Takei has blogged about a plan to build a wall around Tule Lake Internment Camp in Northern California, where he and his family were imprisoned during WWII.

Here is an excerpt from his blog post:

Tule Lake had a “stockade” concrete prison block where those who vocalized their opposition to the internment were held in solitary confinement and tortured. It was our own Guantanemo. Brad and I undertook a pilgrimage back to Tule Lake and visited the stockade, a sad but important reminder that when our democracy fails, any one of us could be its targets.


I have spent my life ensuring that we never forget, and never repeat, these mistakes of the past. The culmination of this work is the musical “Allegiance” which is coming to Broadway next year, which I hope many, many people will see.


I recently learned, however, that the FAA has proposed to construct an 8 foot high, 16,000 foot long fence to close off the Tule Lake site, ostensibly to protect the airstrip (used primarily for cropdusters) along the campsite firebreak road. This fence, which is overkill simply to keep out wildlife such as deer, would prevent any visitors to the grounds of the former internment camp, include the infamous stockade. It would be a body blow to our efforts to keep this critical piece of American history, however blighted, from fading from our collective memory.

This news coincides with our upcoming week’s topic of digitized Asian America and highlights the importance of digital and networked communications technologies for Asian American politics, activism, and cultural production. That said, here is the link to his petition.

Here is more information on Tule Lake Internment Camp (or Tule Lake Relocation Center).

Individual Blog Posts and Responses

A large component of your grade (10%) in this course will be based on your contributions to this course blog. Each week a handful of students will author original posts of 250 words (minimum) engaging with the coming week’s readings and topics. Please refer to the Schedule for these. All other students will be responding, via comments to one of that week’s readings. Be prepared to discuss these topics in class.

Your original post can elaborate on the readings, provide additional examples, ask questions, critique, analyze, or provoke. You are welcome to relate the readings to current events or outside examples that you find relevant if you feel that they are relevant to that week’s themes and they add perspective, complexity, etc. These posts do not need to be very formal, and you are welcome to exercise your individual voice in writing these posts. However, please be respectful of your classmates, and maintain civil online discussions, as these will bleed into our in-class dialogues.

There is no minimum length requirement to these comments, but they should demonstrate engagement with the material and with the writing of your classmates. You are required to post a minimum of once (to one reading), but are welcome to post more. I encourage you to spend time on the blog and explore the different perspectives reflected in the different posts.


Wednesday Class Meeting

Class will be held in SSMS 1303 (Social Sciences and Media Studies Building). Please arrive at 2pm. We will finish Ping Pong Playa and then proceed to your first blog assignment. I will be emailing you all within the next day or so with invitations to the WordPress site. You can accept it immediately or wait until class on Wednesday to set up your account.

And in preparation for the the film, here is a “popular,” crowdsourced definition of “playa” from Urban Dictionary. We shall discuss the relevance and politics of the “popular” in relation to the “crowd” and the “mass” tomorrow.

Ping Pong Playa

Blog Assignment #1

By the Saturday at 12pm noon, each student must post a short entry containing two parts:

  1. A personal introduction (name or pseudonym, year, major, and your favorite example or memory of Asian Am popular culture).
  2. Your own definition of “popular culture,” Asian American popular culture, its relevance, and why it is important to study it or any kind of ethnic or minor community’s cultural production.