BIO / LINKS TO BOOKS / LINKS TO SELECTED ONLINE PAPERS
Université du Québec À Montréal
Case postale 8888 succursale Centre-Ville
Montréal, Québec Canada H3C 3P8
office telephone : (514)987-3000, ext. 2099
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Greg Robinson, a native New Yorker, is Professor of History at l'Université du Québec À
Montréal, a French-language institution in Montreal, Canada, and a researcher at that
university’s Center for United States Studies and Chaire de Recherche sur Immigration,
Ethnicité et Citoyenneté. A specialist in North American Ethnic Studies and U.S. Political
History, Robinson teaches courses on African American history, Twentieth-Century U.S.
Foreign Policy, American Immigration History, and visible minorities/racial groups, among
others. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from New York University,
and a B.A. in History and French Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania.
Robinson’s first monograph, By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of
Japanese Americans (Harvard University Press, 2001) is an in-depth history of the
decisions behind the government’s mass removal and confinement of West Coast
Japanese Americans during World War II, one which centers on the role of President
Franklin D. Roosevelt. It spent four months on Academia Magazine’s University Press
Bestseller List, and was voted a “Recommended Book for Understanding Civil Liberties”
by the American Association of University Presses. His second solo book, A Tragedy of
Democracy: Japanese Confinement in North America, (Columbia University Press, 2009),
winner of the 2009 History Book Prize of the Association for Asian American Studies,
is an ambitious transnational history of the wartime confinement of people of Japanese
ancestry throughout North America. It not only offers newly uncovered material that
extends existing accounts of the camp experience of West Coast Japanese Americans,
but breaks new ground by studying those events alongside the treatment of ethnic
Japanese in Canada, Mexico, and Latin America. Especially noteworthy is the book’s
discussion of the condition of Japanese Americans under martial law and military
government in Hawaii.
His most recent solo work, After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life
and Politics (University of California Press, 2012) is the first full-length book to discuss
the experience of Japanese Americans across the continent in the years following World
War II. Essays include topics such as resettlement and dispersal, the nature of
assimilation, and relations with other racial and ethnic minority groups. Another new
book, Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese Ameircan Journalism in the
World War II Era (University of Ilinois Press, 2012) is an anthology of writings by a pair
of versatile and insightful Nisei journalists. It features an extended biographical and
historical introduction and headnotes.
Greg Robinson is also the lead author, with Elena Tajima Creef, of Miné Okubo: Following
Her Own Road, which was published by University of Washington Press in July 2008.
The book is a wide-ranging anthology on the life and career of the Nisei artist/writer
Miné Okubo, who defied conventional assumptions about women, Japanese Americans
and creative artists during a career that spanned nearly seven decades, and it represents
a companion volume to Okubo’s renowned memoir of her camp experience, Citizen
13660. Miné Okubo includes selections from Okubo’s literary and artistic work in diverse
genres and periods, plus scholarly articles and appreciations. Robinson’s own contribution,
the essay “Birth of a Citizen,” describes the process by which Okubo came to write her
memoir, and details both the author's purposes and the constraints that she faced.
Creef and Robinson also produced a special Miné Okubo tribute issue of Amerasia Journal
In addition to his books, Greg Robinson has distinguished himself as editor. His publications
include Gale Macmillan’s 5-volume Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History
and its supplements (1995-2000), for which he was assistant editor, coeditor and principal
author. He has also rediscovered and introduced new editions of early Asian American
memoirs. The new edition of Ayako Ishigaki’s 1940 book Restless Wave (Feminist Press of
the City University of New York, 2004) that he produced with Yi-Chun Tricia Lin won a
special citation as a “lost classic” from the Association for Asian American Studies. In 2008,
he led a team of scholars who put together a new Rutgers University Press edition of
Kathleen Tamagawa’s 1932 autobiography Holy Prayers in a Horse’s Ear, the first book by
an American Nisei to be published by a commercial press, and enhanced the text by adding
explanatory notes and further material by Tamagawa. He is also responsible for rediscovering
Jenichiro Oyabe’s 1898 memoir A Japanese Robinson Crusoe, among the first Asian
American books. The 2009 University of Hawaii Press edition, coedited with Yujin Yaguchi,
includes a foreward that not only discusses the author’s unusual life history but places
the memoir as a significant forerunner of the work of the “cosmopolitan Issei” of the early
In addition to his other scholarly contributions, Professor Robinson writes a regular historical
column, “The Great Unknown and the Unknown Great,” for the San Francisco Japanese
American newspaper Nichi Bei Weekly. His column explores fascinating but lesser-known
people in Japanese American history. He has also been active in the blogsphere. In August
2004, he joined with Eric Muller in a series of 29 widely-discussed posts that rebutted
Michelle Malkin’s book, In Defense of Internment, a book purporting to justify the wartime
removal of Japanese Americans. (link) A year later, he made public his discovery of the
“McCloy memo,” an archival document that presented powerful proof that the
government’s policy towards Japanese Americans was not dictated by military necessity. (link)
He has served as regular contributor to historians’ blogs, and has made frequent appearances
on television and radio programs.
LINKS TO BOOKS
Pacific Citizens: Larry and Guyo Tajiri and Japanese Ameircan Journalism in the
World War II Era
After Camp: Portraits in Midcentury Japanese American Life and Politics
Un drame de la Deuxième Guerre : Le sort de la minorité japonaise aux États-Unis et au Canada
A Tragedy of Democracy:Japanese Confinement_in North America or via COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
By Order of the President: FDR and the Internment of Japanese Americans
Mine Okubo: Following her Own Road
Kathleen Tamagawa, Holy Prayers in a Horse’s Ear
Ayako Ishigaki, Restless Wave
Jenichiro Oyabe, A Japanese Robinson Crusoe
LINKS TO SELECTED ONLINE PAPERS
A study of Japanese Americans at University of Pennsylvania during World War II and
the scandal that erupted when Naomi Nakano, a Nisei honors student, was excluded from
the University in 1944.
“Korematsu and Beyond: Japanese Americans and the origins of Strict Scrutiny” (with Toni Robinson)
The alliance for civil rights between Japanese Americans and Blacks and the impact of
wartime and postwar Japanese American cases (notably Oyama v. California) on the
Supreme Court’s historic 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling.
“Paul Robeson and Japanese Americans”
The Celebrated African American singer/activist and his support for the rights of Japanese Americans.
“Parallel Wars : Japanese American and Japanese Canadian Internment Films”
An examination of how dramatic films about the wartime events both use and subvert
the strategy of using white protagonists.
African American lawyer Hugh E. Macbeth, Sr.’s outstanding defense of Japanese Americans
during the World War II era.
"Cyrus Adler and the Jefferson Bible"
The Jewish-American scholar who rediscovered and published Thomas Jefferson's controversial
compendium of scripture
"Nisei Journalists and the Japanese Occupation of China"
The pro-Japanese prewar writings of Buddy Uno and Bill Hosokawa
"Pearl Harbor and Japanese Americans: Another sort of Infamy?"
The impact of the bombing on Japanese American communities
Tables for Perspectives article (Click to download)
NICHI BEI WEEKLY columns (search within site)
Website at Université Du Québec À Montréal (in French only)
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