My co-authored article on an artwork that problematizes the enduring significance of concentration camps for Japanese-descended people throughout the Americas is recently published in Cultural Geographies. The article — Questioning the exceptionality of the exception: Annabel Castro’s ‘Outside in: exile at home’ (2018) in Cuernavaca — can be found here and here. Here’s the abstract:
Annabel Castro’s art installation ‘Outside in: exile at home’ (2018) problematizes indefinite detention at the Hacienda de Temixco, in Morelos, Mexico, a facility which functioned as a concentration camp for Japanese immigrants and their descendants between 1942 and 1945. The Hacienda de Temixco, like other sites for indefinite detention of Japanese-descended people in the Americas, was contingent upon making detainees’ lives intelligible for security action as the embodiment of a ‘crisis’. This essay interprets Castro’s artwork and its premiere in Cuernavaca as a creative-geographical way to engage visitors around relationships between past and contemporary distinction-making processes by which particular groups of people are refigured as threats to national security. To interpret the artwork as a creative practice of geography, we (1) briefly describe the artwork’s historical context and (2) analyze its composition and exhibition in Cuernavaca at a time when activists in Mexico and the United States were articulating a sense of solidarity that exceeds exclusionary constructions of threatened national bodies.
This article emerged from my participation in a 2018 panel in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico, around the opening of the artwork, Outside in: Exile at home (photo above of my remote participation; photo below from the installation itself). The artist, Annabel Castro, is a co-author on this article and therein details her process and choices.
The other co-author, Sergio Hernández, is a historian at the INAH in Mexico City and has written extensively on Japanese immigration in the Americas. A recent essay of his revisits 20th century concentration camps in relation to systemic racism that inheres in the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.