First Advisor

Susan Conrad

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Applied Linguistics and University Honors


Applied Linguistics




Japanese Americans -- Forced removal and internment (1942-1945) -- Newspapers, Applied linguistics, Corpora (Linguistics), Internment camps -- California -- Newspapers, Japanese Americans -- California – Newspapers, Manzanar War Relocation Center




Past studies on the physical environment of the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II have argued that internees were able to express their agency and identity despite the dehumanization of the camps. However, studies on the newspapers circulated in the camps have argued that internees had no agency as they worked on newspapers. In a preliminary reading, it was clear that these newspapers evidenced internee agency in their language. Utilizing de Certeau's theoretical framework of tactics, this study addressed the following questions: What tactics did Japanese-American internees use to take agency when writing and editing camp newspapers? How did the tactics relate to their Japanese-American identities? What discursive techniques were represented in the tactics? This study utilized a corpus-based approach to Critical Applied Linguistics. The corpus was assembled from Manzanar Free Press issues. Using Key Words in Context searches, the terms allegiance, loyalty, and justice were analyzed qualitatively in context. Japanese-American staff of the Manzanar Free Press included the discursive techniques like selective quoting patterns, hedging, and emotional distancing and included content complicating notions of an essentialized Japanese-American identity. Using these discursive strategies, they engaged in this tactic of storytelling successfully, seizing agency and maintaining their identities. Otherwise voiceless, Japanese-American internees used the space of the Manzanar Free Press to engage in complex narrative development. Internees used not just the built environment, but also language to maintain agency and identity. This maintenance shows the marginalized can use narrative development to claim power.


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