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Both Legacy and Memorial: Japanese American Incarceration in the American West

Feb. 15-17, 2024

The American West Center, in partnership with the Utah Humanities Council, the Utah Humanities Book Festival, NEH’s “United We Stand,” the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, and the Asia Center, will be hosting a three-day symposium exploring the history and legacy of Japanese American incarceration in the American West, Feb. 15-17. At a time when painful narratives are socially and even legally contested, what is the role of the artist and public historian in presenting historical facts? What does a new American memorial for Japanese Americans in the West look like? And, when it comes to divisive perspectives of our shared past, how do we both ethically commemorate and critique the same events?


All events are free and open to the public.

  • Feb. 15,2024: LNCO 2110, 3:3-4:30 p.m.: Dr. Steph Hinnershitz, professor and author of “Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps and Coerced Labor in World War II.”
  • Feb. 15, 2024: 7 p.m., Finch Lane Gallery, 54 Finch Lane: Brandon Shimoda, poet and nonfiction writer, “A Grave in the Wall.”
  • Feb. 16, 2024: 3-4 p.m., Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium, UMFA: Dr. TT Takemoto, artist, scholar, and filmmaker of “Warning Shot, On the Line, and Searching for Jiro Onuma.” 

  • Feb. 16, 2024: 4-5 p.m., Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. Auditorium, UMFA: Roundtable discussion on historical and artistic memorialization on Japanese American incarceration in the American West with Drs. Steph Hinnershitz, Matt Basso, TT Takemoto; the writer/artist Brandon Shimoda; and Jane Beckwith, Topaz Museum founder and board member.

  • Feb. 17, 9:30 AM-3 p.m.: Topaz Museum and site. The AWC is hiring a bus to take interested community members, descendants, educators, and students to Topaz Museum and its incarceration site. While transportation is free, participants will be required to pay the museum entrance fee. Meet at 9:15 AM outside of A. Ray Olpin Student Union, 200 S. Central Campus Drive, University of Utah. Bring snacks, water, and comfortable walking shoes.

Space is limited to 50. RSVP to Michelle Judd at by February 1st, 2024.



Dr. Steph Hinnerschitz is author of the book “Japanese American Incarceration: The Camps & Coerced Labor in WWII.” Dr. Hinnershitz is a professor of Security and Military Studies at the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base. She was formerly the Senior Historian at the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at the National WWII Museum and has held teaching positions at Valdosta State University in Georgia, Cleveland State University in Ohio, and the US Military Academy at West Point.

Writer and Poet Brandon Shimoda is author of the book, “A Grave on the Wall,” a personal memoir exploring the life of his grandfather Midori Shimoda – child migrant, talented photographer, suspected enemy alien and spy, desert wanderer, and American citizen – while trying to reconcile his own uncontested citizenship. Shimoda is a descendant of family members who were incarcerated in Fort Missoula, Poston, and Heart Mountain.

Dr. TT Takemoto is a queer Japanese American artist, scholar, and filmmaker, whose work explores Asian American history, sexuality, and identity. Their films include “Warning Shot, On the Line, and Searching for Jiro Onuma.” Dr. Takemoto's work interacts with found footage and archival materials through performance and labor-intensive processes of painting, lifting, and manipulating 16 mm/35mm film emulsion

Last Updated: 1/24/24