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The Geopolitics of Eugenics and the Incarceration of Japanese Americans

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Both geopolitics and eugenics as political/scientific theories emerged during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Although in the literature these remain largely disparate areas of inquiry, many parallels exist. Both reflected a concern over the security of the state and both emphasized the identification of foreign threats and likewise intimated viable solutions to counter these threats. This paper seeks to uncover a geopolitics of eugenics. Specifically, I contend that a eugenically informed geopolitical discourse—and not solely a racist ideology—greatly informed the decision during the Second World War to incarcerate in the United States 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The liberties and human rights of those incarcerated were violated because, according to this discourse, their sacrifices were necessary for the preservation of a (white) race and nation.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Kent State University, Kent, Ohio

Publication date: July 1, 1998


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